Britain is believed to have become the first nation in the world to grant asylum to an atheist from Afghanistan, over fears the individual would be prosecuted upon return to his homeland.
The unnamed man was told he would be allowed to stay in the country after abandoning his faith whilst settling in Britain.
The man was brought up as a Muslim in Afghanistan and arrived in Britain in 2007 at the age of 16, yet lost his faith during his time in the country, and feared returning ‘home’ would put his life in danger.
In the case, taken up by Kent Law Clinic, a free service provided by University of Kent students in England and supervised by qualified lawyers, second-year law student Claire Spawn represented the individual and prepared the case under the supervision of clinic solicitor Sheona York.
Speaking after the decision Ms Splawn said: “We argued that an atheist should be entitled to protection from persecution on the grounds of their belief in the same way as a religious person is protected.”
Ms York added: “The decision represents an important recognition that a lack of religious belief is in itself a thoughtful and seriously-held philosophical position.”
National body, the British Humanist Association, said the case may well have a claim to be a first in being based on non-religious beliefs.
Chief executive of the organisation, Andrew Copson, explained: “Freedom of belief for humanists, atheists and other non-religious people is as important as freedom of belief for the religious but it is too often neglected by Western governments who focus too narrowly on the rights of Christians abroad, as we have seen recently.
“It is great to see Britain showing a lead in defending the human rights of the non-religious in the same way.
“Increasingly in the last two years our Foreign Office is speaking up for the rights of non-religious people abroad – to now see the Home Office extending the UK’s protection to non-religious refugees within our borders is something we can all be proud of.”
Following the presentation of the case, lawyers concluded that the man’s return could result in a death sentence for being an apostate unless he remained discreet about his atheist beliefs.