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Religion and the Law

Globally, the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) is guaranteed by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. In Sri Lanka, FoRB is protected under Chapter III, Article 10 of the Constitution, which states, ‘Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.’ Moreover, Paragraph 2 of Article 12 emphasizes that ‘No Citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds.’ These provisions guarantee an individual’s fundamental right to express and manifest one’s religion or belief in relation to worship and observance.

Our interactive timeline of laws, intended as a resource for students and resources, offers an overview of the key legislation relevant to the freedom of religious belief in Sri Lanka.