National Statement by the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Freedom of Religion and Belief

43rd Human Rights Council – Palais des Nations Geneva

2 March 2020

Madam President,

The Netherlands aligns itself with the EU statement.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for his latest analysis on the freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) and gender equality.  

The Netherlands is firmly committed to promote FoRB for all. However, FoRB can never be invoked as a justification for violence or discrimination against religious minorities, non-believers, women and girls or against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The Special Rapporteur rightly concludes that States must exercise due diligence to ensure that all individuals are able to effectively enjoy their human rights.

As recommended by the Rapporteur, the Netherlands calls on all States to repeal discriminatory laws, including laws enacted with reference to religious considerations, that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services and information and laws criminalizing offences, such as blasphemy, abortion and offences on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is unacceptable that over 70 countries criminalize same-sex relationships and up to 11 States impose the death penalty for homosexual acts.

Mr. Shaheed,

In your recommendations you state the proactive role that faith leaders and civil society organizations have to play in fighting discrimination and stereotypes. How can we engage these groups to include the principles of non-discrimination and non-violence within their communities?

Thank you.