Article 9 - Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

What does this right mean?

Everyone is free to hold a broad range of views, beliefs and thoughts and to follow a religious faith. The right to manifest - to practice through e.g. prayer or diet, or to show e.g. through dress or adornments - those beliefs may be limited only in special circumstances.

When could this be relevant?

  • Respect for cultural and religious requirements

  • Opportunities for prayer or to wear religious clothing

  • Providing support to enable people to participate in their normal religious practices such as dietary requirements at meal times and in care and support plans.

Story example of Article 9 issue

Leena is working for a care at home service provider. She has worked there for a number of years and has good relationships with the people she cares for and their families. Leena is Muslim and as she has grown older she has become more religious in her beliefs. Recently she has started to wear a headscarf to work. Her manager advises her that she must remove the headscarf while she is working as it could confuse her longstanding service users who will not recognise her and may become alarmed. The service then introduces a uniform policy which states that only the company tunics and trousers can be worn and that any other form of dress is inappropriate for care workers.