The constitution provides for the freedom of religion and bans discrimination based on religious belief. The law, however, restricts certain forms of religious speech, limits public religious gatherings, and requires all religious groups to register with the government. The government registered only Buddhist groups and one Hindu umbrella organization. Some religious groups state they were unable to register, reporting that their applications were ignored although never officially denied. Since other groups were unable to register, public spaces of worship were available only for Buddhists and Hindus; however, individuals from other faiths were sometimes able to worship in private. On September 11, two pastors were fined and sentenced to prison under penal code provisions that apply to unlicensed large assemblies and the receipt of foreign funds without requisite approval, according to the government; activists stated the pastors were targeted because of their evangelical activities.
There was continued strong societal pressure on individuals to maintain Buddhist beliefs, traditions, and practices. There were reports that some school administrators denied admission to non-Buddhist children. Members of religious minorities in rural areas reported incidents of verbal harassment from Buddhist neighbors.
The U.S. Ambassador to India raised issues relating to religious freedom with the government during official meetings in April. During a visit in July embassy representatives and State Department officials raised with members of Bhutan’s religious regulatory authority, the Commission for Religious Organizations (Chhoedey Lhentshog), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerns about religious freedom, with particular focus on the treatment and status of religious minorities.