Law, Religion and Religious Minorities

Reflections on International Human Rights Law and Global Trends

In: Minority Religions under Irish Law

Abstract

This chapter examines questions of law, religion, and religious minorities in international and comparative perspective. It describes a recent shift in international human rights law on religion from viewing religious freedom in primarily individual terms to a new recognition of groups and group rights and the implications of this shift for religious minorities. It then comparatively examine a new and emerging focus on religious minorities in some of the most difficult parts of the world to be a religious minority, namely the South Asian nations of Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka, as well as nations in Southeast Asia. It then explores questions of recognition of identity and equality versus nondiscrimination in connection with religious minorities, with specific comparison to the fraught issue of same-sex marriage in the United States and Australia and the question of whether conservative religious groups deserve protection or exemption from laws mandating nondiscrimination toward and equal treatment of religious and other minorities. The chapter concludes, picking up on its opening theme, with some brief reflections on Muslim minorities in the U.S. and Irish contexts.