Confronting Religious Discrimination
Religious discrimination, the treatment of individuals who practice other religions in unfair manners because their beliefs and practices are different, sadly still exists in our society. Though discrimination based on religion is illegal in the United Kingdom, many private citizens still harbour discriminatory thoughts, attitudes and actions. Today there is much that can be done to confront religious discrimination. Confronting an individual (when it is safe to do so), reporting discrimination and educating others are all steps that anyone can take to help confront religious discrimination.
Confronting an IndividualMany individuals will make discriminatory remarks or jokes about followers of other religions because they are ignorant, misinformed or simply scared of what is different. Unfortunately these people can be vocal in their thoughts and show little regard for others. If it is safe to do so, confront such individuals with a short, no-nonsense approach such as by saying "I can't believe you just said that" or "What a disgusting sentiment". Such a stark reminder that religious discrimination is intolerable may be enough to shock the individual into reconsidering his or her words, or to shock others into vocal support of your statement. Whether or not you convince anyone, however, it is often best to leave a conversation after making your point. Not only will this help keep you safe from verbal or physical retaliation but it will help you make the point that you want nothing more to do with that individual.
Reporting DiscriminationIf you see religion discrimination taking place, or if you are experiencing discrimination, let others know that you are aware of what is happening. This is often enough to stop discriminatory practices. If it is not then leaving the immediate area and reporting the discriminatory practice is usually the safest option. The Race Relations Act 1976 protects individuals from being discriminated against in employment on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, religious beliefs or ethnicity.
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 forbids discrimination in employment or vocational training due to religion or belief. If it is believed that these Acts (and/or their amendments) have been breached then going to court is one way of reporting and hopefully ending religionist practices. Reporting religious discrimination to local authorities is another method of calling attention to inappropriate practices, particularly if religious discrimination is experienced while receiving health or social care.
Finally, reporting religious discrimination to organisations working for equal rights under the law may also help to eradicate such behaviours. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers free and confidential advice on employment issues while the Equality and Human Rights Commission strives for equality in the United Kingdom.
Educating OthersThough it is not right, it is often left up to the individuals who recognise religious discrimination to educate others about why these practices are inappropriate. Often educating others about different religions is the first step in this process since it allows others to see that people of all religions are equally able, have much to offer and that there is nothing to fear in their beliefs of practices. If this is not enough to stop religious discrimination then educating others about the law and the consequences of discrimination - particularly if it pertains to their freedom or livelihood - may get them to stop their discriminatory thoughts or practices. If not, reporting discrimination and getting authorities involved will hopefully cause discriminatory practices to cease even if it might not change the perpetrator's attitudes.
Discrimination due to religion is both inappropriate and illegal, but sadly it does still occur. Confronting individuals about their thoughts and actions, reporting discrimination and educating others are all ways to confront religious discrimination when it does occur.