Freedom of Religion in the Perspective of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities



The freedom to express one’s beliefs and participate fully in one’s religious community is one of the fundamental human rights explicitly stated in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. However,in Indonesia like in many other countries, persons with disabilities are one of the groups excluded from enjoying  their full human rights.

Two kinds of barriers keep person with disabilities from access houses of worship. Attitudinal barriers including misconceptions in the mindsets of religious leaders about the concept of disability, stigma and prejudice keep persons with disabilitesfrom contributing significantly to or even being involved in their religious communities. Environmental barriers resulting from design and architectural factors prevent persons with disabilities from physical access to the houses  of worship and  from exercising their spiritual needs equally with everyone else.

The paper will explore how disability is an evolving concept that results from the interaction between persons with impairment and the attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. In addition, it will explore the policy review, strategies and recommendations based on the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities’ ratification through Law number 19/2011 and local regulations/Perda number 9/2015 on the Protection and Fulfillment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Bali Province that seek to ensure the right to freedom of religion is part of human rights of persons with disabilities.


Risnawati Utami has been a gender and disability rights activist since 1999 and currently speaks throughout Indonesia and abroad advocating the rights of persons with disabilities and development within the United Nations Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A graduate of the Faculty of Law, University of March 11, Solo,in 2006, she was awarded a Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program to earn Master Degree in International Health Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA. Currently, she works for OHANA, a non-profit organization in Yogyakarta which focuses on disability rights advocacy and policy studiesand actively promotes “disability inclusive development” in the Agenda 2030/Sustainable Development Goals at the local, national and global levels.



Leave a Reply