Religion or belief


Religion or belief is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. It includes any religion and any religious or philosophical belief. It also includes any lack of such religion or belief.

The meaning of religion or belief is broad, and is consistent under both the Equality Act and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Religion means any religion and includes a lack of religion. A religion need not be mainstream, but it must be identifiable and have a clear structure and belief system. Denominations or sects within religions (e.g. Methodists within Christianity or Sunnis within Islam) may be considered a religion. Cults and new religious movements may also be religions.

Belief means any religious or philosophical belief, and includes a lack of belief. It need not include faith or worship, but must affect how a person lives their life or perceives the world. For a belief to be protected under the Equality Act it must:

  • be genuinely held
  • be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based in information available at the moment
  • be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour
  • attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance
  • be worthy of respect in a democratic society
  • be comparable with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Examples of people who follow beliefs are Humanists, Atheists and Vegans. 

Political beliefs are not included.

Contact for Equality and Diversity