Case Studies — Stories of Success

Monitoring discrimination against the non-religious

Every day we see non-religious people being marginalized or threatened. But there was no single place to record all the discriminatory laws and incidents of persecution. So we created one.

  • Date / 5 July 2019
  • By / Humanists International

An invisible minority

Humanists, atheists and the non-religious face discrimination in many countries. In very religious societies or authoritarian regimes they can be targeted for speaking out. Yet the idea of a non-religious minority facing their own distinct set of issues was little talked about by human rights bodies. We wanted to change that.

Our flagship report

We worked with our member organizations and volunteers to produce a new annual human rights report: The Freedom of Thought Report. First published in 2012, the report considers every country in the world, documenting discriminatory laws and overt persecution specifically against non-religious people.

Increased understanding and influence

The Freedom of Thought Report has become the go-to place to find out more about human rights violations and discrimination faced by non-religious people. It is quoted in UN reports, books on human rights law, and utilized by human rights activists and NGOs.


The first edition was published in 2012 and covered 60 countries, and we knew that until the report had truly global scope we were omitting many serious problems faced by the non-religious. So we worked extremely hard to expand the 2013 report and since then it has included every country on the planet, as well as a rating system to assess the status of the country.

In 2016 we introduced the Online Edition of the report. You can find the report online at fot.humanists.international. Every country entry now appears on its own page with an interactive ratings table.

In 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, speaking at the General Assembly of Humanists International, said: “There is I think, thanks to the reports that you publish, growing awareness of the plight of humanists around the world.”

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