The law states that religious expression is unrestricted “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” According to law, religious practices may not breach the peace.
The law provides that teaching within public primary schools “shall be entirely of a secular character.” It permits religious instruction and observances in state primary schools within certain parameters, however. If the school committee in consultation with the principal or head teacher so determines, any class may be closed at any time of the school day for the purposes of religious instruction given by voluntary instructors; however, attendance at religious instruction or observances is not compulsory. According to the Ministry of Education, public secondary schools also may permit religious instruction at the discretion of individual school boards. The ministry does not keep data on how many schools permit religious instruction or observances. Religious instruction, if provided at a school, usually takes place after normal school hours.
Citizens may file complaints of unlawful discrimination, including on the basis of religious beliefs, to the government-funded Human Rights Commission (HRC). In the event a complaint is not resolved satisfactorily with the assistance of HRC mediation, the complainant may proceed to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The tribunal has the authority to issue restraining orders, award monetary damages, or declare a breach of the Human Rights Act, which is reported to parliament. Conduct prohibited by the Human Rights Act may be prosecuted under other laws. In addition to the HRC dispute resolution mechanism, a complainant may initiate proceedings in the court system.
The government does not require the licensing or registration of religious groups; however, if a religious group desires to collect money for any charitable purpose, including the advancement of its religion, and obtain tax benefits, it must register with Department of Internal Affairs as a charitable trust. The registration must provide the rules of the organization showing it is a non-profit organization and a list of qualified officers. There is no fee for this registration.
The law does not prevent the registration of political parties based on religion. The country has two registered Christian-associated political parties.