The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The constitution stipulates, It also states, “No one shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex, language, religion, politics, or other status.”
The constitution states that Buddhism is the state’s “spiritual heritage.” The country is a democratic constitutional monarchy. The constitution mandates that the king be the “protector of all religions” in the country. Government approval is required to build religious buildings and, according to the law, they should adhere to the traditions and cultural norms of the country.
The National Security Act (NSA) prohibits “words either spoken or written, or by other means whatsoever, that promote or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, race, language, caste, or community, or on any other ground whatsoever, feelings of enmity or hatred between different religious, racial, or language groups or castes and communities.” Violating the NSA is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. There were no reports of cases prosecuted under the act at the end of the year.
The Penal Code states that a defendant shall be guilty of promoting civil unrest by committing an act that is “prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different nationalities, racial groups, castes, and religious groups and that disturbs the public tranquility.” The punishment is a prison sentence of five to nine years. There were no reports of cases prosecuted under this law at the end of the year.
With a mandate to protect and preserve the spiritual heritage of the country and register all religious organizations, the Chhoedey Lhentshog, a religious regulatory authority, was established in 2009. In addition to registering and regulating religious groups, the eight-member board of the Chhoedey Lhentshog defines roles in religious institutions, precludes religious figures from running in secular elections, and helps ensure that fundraising activities are lawful and non-predatory.
There is one registered non-Buddhist organization, the Hindu Dharma Samudaya, for the Hindu population. In December the Chhoedey Lhentshog considered giving legal status to one Christian organization that would provide opportunities for Christians to openly practice their religion and build places of worship. Although the decision is still pending, the government called for religious tolerance towards Christians.
There are no laws against publishing religious materials.
The government subsidizes Buddhist monasteries and shrines and provides aid to most of the country’s monks and nuns. The government does not provide aid to religious leaders of other religions.
The government contends that there is no religious curriculum in educational institutions in the country. Although Buddhist teaching is permitted in monastic schools, religious teaching is forbidden in other schools. Local nongovernmental organizations state that students take part in a compulsory Buddhist prayer session each morning.
The government observes major Buddhist holidays as national holidays. The king declared one major Hindu festival to be a national holiday and the royal family participated in it.