The constitution provides for freedom of religious belief. Domestic service workers and caretakers are not covered under the labor standards law and are therefore not legally guaranteed a weekly rest day. Due to this exclusion, many domestic workers are not able to attend religious services. Tibetan Buddhist monks again reported they continued to be unable to obtain resident visas for religious work, which authorities said was due to general rules governing foreigners who use travel permits instead of passports. Government authorities took initiatives to accommodate Muslims, including building new prayer rooms at public places such as train stations, libraries, and tourist destinations. The Taipei City government sought to improve the accommodation of Muslims in the city’s hospitals.
A Tibetan Buddhist group continued to accuse a local Buddhist organization it said was Chinese-funded of disseminating messages that Tibetans were not true Buddhists. The Buddhist organization denied it was Chinese-funded, and published a “clarification statement” as directed by the Supreme Court, but indicated it was not an apology to the Tibetan group. In October some parents raised concerns that volunteers from a life education organization used school recess time to teach courses they said were religious in nature to elementary and junior high school students. Lawmakers and city councilors called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to address the issue, citing the Educational Fundamental Act, which forbids public schools from promoting any specific religious belief.
Staff of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) regularly met with authorities as part of its efforts to promote religious freedom and tolerance. AIT representatives consulted with Taiwan authorities and lawmakers, including on the issues of Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and the effect of labor laws on domestic service workers’ ability to attend religious services. AIT representatives also met with religious leaders and representatives of faith-based social service organizations to promote religious tolerance.