The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religious belief and practice, including worship. It prohibits discrimination based on religion. Laws prohibit actions that incite religious hatred and violence. In June the parliament unanimously passed legislation outlawing childhood marriage, which changed the legal marriage age for all regardless of religious affiliation to 18. The president proclaimed the legislation in September. Religious organizations had mixed reactions to the new law. The Hindu Women’s Organization of Trinidad and Tobago, the National Muslim Women’s Organization of Trinidad and Tobago, and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) supported the legislation, while some religious organizations, including the leader of an orthodox Hindu organization (Sanatan Dharma Maha Saba) said it would infringe on religious rights. Religious groups said the government continued its financial support for religious ceremonies and for the Inter-Religious Organization (IRO), an interfaith coordinating committee. The government’s national security policy continued to limit the number of long-term foreign missionaries to 35 per registered religious group at any given time.
The government-funded IRO, representing diverse denominations within Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and the Bahai Faith, continued to advocate for matters of religious concern and the importance of religious tolerance. With a mandate “to speak to the nation on matters of social, moral, and spiritual concern,” the IRO focused its efforts on marches, press conferences, and statements regarding tolerance for religious diversity and related issues.
U.S. embassy representatives met with senior government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the importance of government protection of religious equality. Embassy representatives met with the IRO to discuss interfaith cooperation and the value of religious tolerance. Embassy representatives conducted outreach to religious group leaders, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Orisha, and Spiritual/Shouter Baptist, as part of its efforts to promote interfaith tolerance. Embassy representatives delivered remarks highlighting the value of religious plurality at a number of events.