The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom. The constitution provides that “all persons in Malta have full freedom of conscience and enjoy the free exercise of their respective mode of religious worship.” Citizens have the right to sue the government for violations of religious freedom. These protections also apply in cases of religious discrimination or persecution by private individuals or by public officials in the performance of their duties.
The constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion and declares that the authorities of the Catholic Church have “the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and which are wrong.”
Persons convicted of vilification of the Catholic religion or “any other cult tolerated by law” are liable to imprisonment of one to six months or one to three months, respectively. The government interprets “any other cult” to mean other religions.
Catholic religious education is mandated in the constitution and compulsory in all state schools. There are constitutional and legal provisions, however, allowing a student to be exempt from the instruction at a parent’s or guardian’s request.
Enrollment in private religious schools is permitted. The law allows homeschooling only in rare cases, such as chronic illness.
All religious groups have similar legal rights. Religious groups may own property, including buildings, and their religious leaders may perform marriages and other functions.
The government does not require religious groups to be registered or licensed. They have the option of registering as a voluntary organization, but there are no associated benefits, such as tax reductions or exemptions, for doing so.