Religion or Belief

Religion and Belief/Non-Belief Inequality in Wales

The Facts

All the major world religions are represented across Wales today. Many of which have been long established in Wales and make up an important part of Welsh culture. The 2011 Census data shows that in 2011 the percentage of the population of Wales giving their religion as Christian was 57.6%[1]. The earliest Christian relic found in Wales dates back to 375AD and depicted the Chi-Rho, an ancient Christian symbol[2]. There was a doubling in the number of Muslims living in Wales since the previous census. In 2001 0.7% of the population identified themselves as Muslim and by 2011 this had increased to 1.5%. More than half the Muslim population lives in Cardiff (51.8%)[3]. In 1947 Wales’s first purpose-built mosque was built in Butetown, Cardiff[4]. The 2011 census similarly showed an increase in the percentage of people identifying as Buddhists or Hindu. Both Buddhists and Hindu rose from 0.2% to 0.3%. Cardiff is shown to have the highest proportion of Buddhists, numbering 1,690[5]. Meanwhile the percentage of the population identifying as Jewish remained constant at 1%. Judaism is the oldest non-Christian faith to be established in Wales. There is a written record of the oldest Jewish communities in Wales, which founded in Swansea around 1730[6]. Likewise the percentage of the Welsh population identifying as Sikhs remained constant at 1%. The first purpose-built Sikh Gurdwara was opened in Cardiff in 1989[7]. The category “any other religion” accounted for 0.4% in 2011 compared to 0.2% in 2001. Between 2001 and 2011 the percentage of the population of Wales saying that they had no religion increased by nearly half a million (from 18.5% to 32.1%). Religions of Wales

Know Your Rights

It is unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their religion or belief or lack of religion or belief. There is no specific list that sets out what religion or belief discrimination is, and the law law defines it as any religion, religious or philosophical belief. This includes all major religions, as well as less widely practiced ones. To be protected under the Equality Act, a philosophical belief must:

  • Be genuinely held
  • Be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available
  • 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, compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Humanism and atheism are examples of philosophical beliefs. Workers are also protected against discrimination if they do not hold a particular (or any) religion or belief. Employers do not have to give workers time off or facilities for religious observance, but they should try to accommodate them whenever possible. For example, if a worker needs a prayer room and there is a suitable room available then a worker could be allowed to use it, providing it does not disrupt others or affect their ability to carry out their work properly. Many employers find that being sensitive to the cultural and religious needs of their employees makes good business sense. This can mean making provisions for:

  • Flexible working
  • Religious holidays and time off to observe festivals and ceremonies
  • Prayer rooms with appropriate hygiene facilities
  • Dietary requirements in staff canteens and restaurants
  • Dress requirements[8].


  1. Statistics for Wales. 2011 Census: First Results for Ethnicity, National Identity, and Religion for Wales.
  2. BBC Website. Wales Religion and Belief: Multicultural Wales.
  3. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Census: Religion, local authorities in England and Wales.
  4. BBC Website. Wales Religion and Belief: Multicultural Wales.
  5. Religion or belief discrimination.