The constitution provides for freedom of religion and worship, including the right to choose and change one’s religion. The constitution mandates the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to promote ethnic and religious harmony, and it includes representatives of the country’s main religious traditions, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.
According to the Rastafari Council, representatives of the Rastafarian community continued to state a law criminalizing the possession of 15 grams (.53 ounces) or more of marijuana infringed on their religious practices. A council member said a bill passed in November prescribing restorative justice remedies, such as counseling and community service instead of prison sentences for possession of fewer than 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of cannabis, discriminated against Rastafarians because the law hindered their constitutional right to freely practice their religion. The government began a process to select new members to replace the ERC commissioners, whose terms expired in 2021. ERC staff continued to provide public messaging during religious holidays to underscore the need for tolerance and to promote cohesion. During the year, the government promoted respect for religious diversity, including through public messaging on religious holidays.
Religious leaders said there continued to be a high degree of respect for religious diversity and interreligious cooperation in the country. During the year, the Inter-Religious Organization of Guyana (IROG), whose members include representatives of the Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Rastafarian, and Baha’i faiths, conducted interfaith efforts, including by publishing messages in support of religious tolerance. IROG’s constituent religious groups continued to lead and participate in programs promoting interfaith tolerance and religious freedom. Their programs included observing World Interfaith Harmony Week with prayers and reflections and hosting a public interreligious dialogue among youth on the topic “Religious Tolerance: A Tool for a Peaceful Society.”
In April, the U.S. Ambassador attended the first government-hosted National Day of Prayer and Fasting. At the event, the Ambassador encouraged the government officials and religious representatives to continue to promote and pursue religious inclusivity. In October, the Ambassador attended a government-hosted prayer and culture activity in honor of Diwali, a Hindu festival. At the event, the Ambassador took the opportunity to encourage the government officials to continue their efforts to promote respect for religious diversity and inclusivity. In April, the Ambassador hosted an iftar for leaders of the Muslim, Christian, Rastafarian, and Baha’i communities. The religious leaders discussed how promoting religious tolerance could further promote cohesion and inclusivity. U.S. embassy officials met with representatives of Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Rastafarian groups throughout the year and discussed issues related to religious tolerance. Embassy officials amplified messages of religious tolerance on social media with greetings posted on Christian, Islamic, and Hindu holidays.