Matt Cherry represented the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the Fourth Annual Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conference at the United Nations Church Center on April 24. The conference brought together more than a hundred Sikh leaders and human rights activists from across the globe.
Speakers at the day-long event in New York included Susan Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, New York State Senator Kevin Parker, and Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director for Policy and Research at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Cherry spoke about the human rights challenges faced by Humanists and the non-religious. He also argued that secular government was the best guarantee of freedom of religion or belief for Sikhs as well as Humanists.
Discussion at the conference was dominated by a recent ruling by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Committee upheld a claim by a Sikh in France that his right to freedom of religion or belief was violated by the requirement that he not wear his turban for his photo for a French national ID card. However, just before the conference, the French government announced its intention to ignore the UN ruling.