The United Nations Human Rights Council has dropped a resolution condemning religious defamation, putting in its place one that supports an individual's freedom of belief.
For years, Muslim countries pushed for a resolution making it a crime to criticize religions.
Critics said that resolution mainly protected Islam, mirroring the harsh blasphemy laws used to persecute Christians and other minorities in Muslim nations.
The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom hailed the new resolution, saying it "properly focuses on protecting individuals from discrimination or violence, instead of protecting religions from criticism."
The unanimous vote Thursday by the 47-member council in Geneva was also welcomed by free speech activists.
U.S.-based Human Rights First praised the resolution as "a huge achievement because for the first time in many years it focuses on the protection of individuals rather than religions."
The nonbinding resolution calls on countries to guarantee people's right to have or adopt a religion or belief of their choice.