The constitution provides for freedom of religion, including the freedom of individuals to change their religion. Religious organizations may register as nonprofit religious institutions with the government or register as corporations, which requires an application to parliament. Early in the year, the government formally registered the Islamic Center of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which operates three mosques, as the country’s first incorporated Islamic nonprofit organization. Parliament continued to consider a bill proposed by the government in 2019 that would decriminalize possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, including for religious purposes. Government officials continued to support Rastafarians and all other religious groups’ use of cannabis for sacramental purposes. According to government officials, during the year, the Ministry of Education, National Reconciliation, Ecclesiastical Affairs, and Information approved exemptions from the requirement of vaccinations for school enrollment, an issue that had affected Rastafarians with school-age children. Senior government officials publicly defended the right of religious freedom, including through public speeches. Government officials also said the Ministry of Education, Reconciliation, Ecclesiastical Affairs, and Information applied the constitution’s nondiscrimination clauses to include religious observance in schools, including the wearing of dreadlocks by Rastafarians and Thusia Seventh-day Adventists.
Rastafarians said they were increasingly accepted in society, and overall the country’s citizens were becoming more tolerant of their way of life. Rastafarians stated, however, they still faced discrimination in both private and public job markets and in some private schools due to their appearance.
U.S. embassy officials continued to underscore with government officials the need to respect all religious groups and protect religious freedom as a fundamental right. Embassy officials also met virtually with individuals from the Christian and Muslim communities and nongovernmental organizations to discuss governmental and societal support for religious freedom, including respect for religious minorities. The embassy used Facebook to promote messages regarding the importance of religious freedom and respect for religious diversity across the Eastern Caribbean.