Belarus: Lukashenko attacks religious freedom

Belarusian authorities are introducing new, drastic restrictions on religious freedom.

Alexander Lukashenko’s regime has introduced new, much stricter restrictions on the activities of religious organizations, which could be banned if not respected. The relevant regulations in this regard were adopted on November 29 in the second, and therefore final, reading by the House of Representatives – the lower body of the National Assembly (Parliament) of the Republic of Belarus. They introduce a number of bans and at the same time expand the list of cases in which these communities can be liquidated.

New law in Belarus

The adopted draft law “On the amendment of the provisions on the activities of religious organizations” is a new version of the law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” of October 31, 2002, which includes a number of amendments to the Civil Code of White- Russia are introduced. Under the new legislation, religious organizations will no longer be able to use non-religious symbols in places of worship, nor will they be able to post texts and images aimed at inciting religious disputes and hostility, and they will no longer be able to engage in activities “against the sovereignty of Belarus, its constitutional system and civil harmony”, engage in political activities or participate in political parties.

The following may be a reason for the liquidation of religious communities: inconsistency of their activities with the basic directions of the country’s domestic and foreign policy, discrediting state power, promoting war, social, national, religious and racial hostility and extremism, humiliation of national honor and dignity, damage to the health and morals of citizens, hindrance in obtaining compulsory general education and other factors.

The new regulations also change the procedure for registering religious organizations by the state, restrict missionary and pilgrimage activities, and provide for the possibility for these organizations to create legal entities and structural units to provide social services and orphanages in monasteries. The duties and order of activity of such institutions will be determined by the Ministry of Education.

Before the new law is signed by the president, it will have to be approved by the upper house of the Belarusian parliament – ​​​​the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly.

Source: Do Rzeczy