‘WIDESPREAD PUBLIC confusion and misunderstanding’ is how the Equality and Human Rights Commission described people’s views on laws protecting freedom of religion or belief in the largest ever public consultation carried out by the group.

Nearly 2,500 people of different beliefs responded to the consultation looking at people’s experience of being able to express their beliefs day-to-day which will inform a report on the adequacy of belief protection laws later this year.

Christians gave the largest number of responses with some reporting that their faith is “losing its place in the workplace and in society more generally”. Believers also said they were mocked for beliefs and colleagues assumed they were bigoted. Christians in particular felt they had to keep their faith hidden at work and felt discriminated when expressing beliefs or wearing religious symbols.

Followers of Jesus also said their children were ridiculed in schools for beliefs such as that God created the world. Christian service providers also thought their charitable and social care contributions were undermined, sometimes even being denied public funding.

Mark Hammond, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said there was widespread confusion about the law “leading to some resentment and tensions between groups and anxiety for employees who fear falling foul of what they see as complicated equality and human rights legislation”.

Mr Hammond now plans to use the evidence to examine the law’s effectiveness and develop guidance.”

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