The constitution prohibits discrimination based on creed and provides for freedom of thought and religion including the right of individuals to change their religion or belief, and to manifest and propagate their religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance, alone or in community and in private or in public. These rights may be subject to limitations to protect public order, safety, morality, or health or the rights of others. The constitution also bars oaths contrary to an individual’s religious belief and, in schools, any compulsory religious education or attendance at religious ceremonies. It gives religious groups, however, the right to establish schools and to provide religious instruction therein to members of that group. Citizens can file complaints of religious discrimination with the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), and the EOC can initiate investigations on its own if it believes a citizen’s rights may have been infringed. On July 14, 2014, the constitution was amended to eliminate the requirement that candidates for political office identify themselves according to one of the four national communities cited in the constitution: Hindus, Muslims, Sino-Mauritians, or general population.
A parliamentary decree recognizes the six religious groups that were present prior to independence: Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Hindus, and Muslims. These groups receive annual lump sum payments from the finance ministry based on the number of their adherents as determined by the voluntary self-identification of individuals in the census. For example, according to a newspaper report, in 2013, the Muslim community received 12 million rupees (Rs) ($378,500), the Catholic Church Rs 24 million ($757,100) and Hindu groups received Rs 37 million ($1.17 million). The registrar of associations registers new religious groups, which must have a minimum of seven members. The finance ministry grants these new groups tax-exempt privileges. Although registration of religious groups is required, the law does not prescribe any penalties for unregistered groups.