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ON THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
Law of the Republic of Belarus
N 2054-XII of December 17, 1992
Chapter 1. General Provisions
Article 1. Tasks of the Law
This Law guarantees the rights of citizens to determine and express their attitude to the religion, to have respective convictions, to confess the religion and soleninise religious rites, as well as the social justice and equality, protection of the rights and interests of citizens regardless their attitude to the religion and regulate the relations bound with the activities of religious organisations.
The tasks of this Law consist in the regulation of the social relations arisen in this field for the purposes of uniform implementation of the principles of the freedom of conscience and religion fixed in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus on the whole territory of the Republic of Belarus as well as exercise of the citizens right of use of this freedom.
Article 2. Legislation of the Republic of Belarus on the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations
The legislation of the Republic of Belarus on the freedom of religion and religious organisations consists of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the present Law and other acts of the legislation of the Republic of Belarus issued in accordance with these.
Article 3. Right of Freedom of Religion
In accordance with the right of freedom of religion every citizen shall determine independently his/her attitude to the religion, be entitled to confess any or none religion alone or jointly with other persons, express and disseminate the convictions bound with the relation to the religion.
Parents or surrogate parents have the right to bring up with the mutual consent their children in accordance with their own relation to the religion.
No compulsion is allowed concerning the determination by a citizen of his relation to the religion, confession or refusal of confession of the religion, participation or non-participation in divine services, religious rites and ceremonies. in religious education.
The exercise of the freedom of confession of religion or expression of convictions is subject only to those restrictions which are necessary for ensuring of public safety and order, protection of the human life, health, moral as well as rights and freedoms of other citizens, established by the law and complying with the international obligations of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 4. Equality of Citizens Regardless Their Attitude to the Religion
The citizens of the Republic of Belarus are equal to the law in all spheres of civil, political, economic,
social and cultural life regardless their attitude to the religion. Indication of the attitude of a citizen to the religion in official documents is not allowed unless the citizen wants so.
Any direct or indirect restriction of rights or establishment of any privileges of the citizens dependent on their attitude to the religion as well as excitation of enmity or hatred in this connection or insulting of the citizens in connection with their religious convictions entail liability as provided by the Law.
Insulting of religious feelings of the citizens as well as insulting of the sacred articles, cult structures, places of pilgrimage and burial places revered in the respective religion shall be prosecuted according to the Law.
Article 5. Civil Duties and Religious Convictions
Nobody is entitled to evade the fulfillment of the duties established by the Law for the reasons of one’s religious convictions.
In the cases provided by the legislative acts of the Republic of Belarus the replacement of some civil duty for another one is allowed.
Article 6. Equality of Religions to the Law
All Religions and confessions are equal to the Law. No religion or confession shall exercise any privileges or be subject to any restrictions in comparison with another ones.
Article 7. Relationship of Religious Organisations and State
The state neither charges religious organisations with any state functions nor interferes in the activities of religious organisations unless such activities contradict the legislation. The state does not finance the activities of religious organisations.
Religious organisations do not perform state functions.
Religious organisations are entitled to participate in the social life as well as use the mass media.
Religious organisations neither participate in the activities of political parties and other social action organisations pursuing political ends nor render financial or other support to them.
At the places of divine services the use of the state symbolism, holding of meetings and other events of political nature as well as appearances in public and calls insulting representatives of the state and public authorities, officials and individual citizens are not allowed.
The state shall promote the establishment of the tolerant and respectful relations between the citizens confessing and not confessing the religion, religious organisations of different confessions as well as between their followers.
Religious organisations are obliged to observe the requirements of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and legislation in force.
The activities of religious organisations, their bodies and representatives directed against the sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus, its constitution system and civil harmony or associated with the infringement of the rights and freedoms of the citizens is prohibited.
Article 8. Relations Between the school and Religious Organisations
The state system of education in the Republic of Belarus is of secular nature and not aimed at the formation of particular attitude to the religion. The access to various kinds and levels of education shall be provided for the citizens regardless their attitude to the religion.
The religious organisations having statutes (regulations) registered in the established order are entitled to create groups and Sunday schools for the religious education of children and adults as well as carry out teaching in other forms using the premises belonging or given to them for the above purpose.
Chapter 2. Religious Organisations in the Republic of Belarus
Article 9. Religious Organisations
Religious organisations in the Republic of Belarus include religious communities, cloisters, religious fraternities, missionary societies (missions), ecclesiastical educational institutions as well as religious associations with their boards and centres.
Religious organisations in the Republic of Belarus shall be formed and carry out their activities in accordance with their statutes (regulations) and have a status of a legal entity.
Only the citizens of the Republic of Belarus may head the religious organisations. Article 10. Religious Communities
Religious communities shall be formed by the citizens for the purposes of joint confession of the faith and satisfying other religious demands and carry out their activities voluntarily in conformity with their statutes (regulations).
Article I 1. Religious Associations, Boards and Centres
The religious associations, their boards and centres shall carry out their activities on the basis of their statutes (regulations), so far as they do not contradict the legislation in force.
The religious organisations in the Republic of Belarus having guiding centres abroad may be guided by their statutes (regulations) in their activities unless the legislation of the Republic of Belarus is infringed in this case.
The relations between the state and foreign religious centres including those associated with the invitation of foreign priests to the Republic for satisfying the religious demands of the believers as well as between the state and religious boards, centres and associations within the Republic not regulated by the Law shall be regulated by the state authorities ensuring the observance of the legislation on the freedom of confessions and religious organisations in the order established by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
The religious associations, their boards and centres as well as the foreign priests invited by them to the Republic for satisfying the ecclesiastical demands of the believers shall observe the legislation on the legal status of foreign citizens in force in the Republic of Belarus.
Article 12. Cloisters, Fraternities and Missions
In accordance with their registered statutes (regulations), the religious boards and centres are entitled to found cloisters, religious fraternities and missionary organisations (missions) which shall carry out their activities on the basis of their statutes (regulations) registered in the order established by the Law.
Article 13. Ecclesiastical Educational Institutions
In accordance with their registered statutes (regulations), the religious boards and centres are entitled to create ecclesiastical educational institutions for training priests and specialists required for the religious organisations. The ecclesiastical educational institutions shall carry out their activities in the basis of their statutes (regulations) registered in the order established by the Law.
The citizens studying at higher and secondary ecclesiastical educational institutions shall exercise the rights and privileges established for students of state educational institutions.
Article 14. Statutes of Religious Organisations
Statutes (regulations) of religious organisations shall be registered in the order established by the present Law according to the civil legislation determining their legal capacity. These statutes shall contain the information of the kind, location and area of activities of the religious organisations, of their confession belonging, place in the organisational structure of the religious association, of their property status, of the rights of foundation of enterprises and mass media, foundation of other religious organisations, creation of educational institutions and other competencies, procedure of settlement of proprietary and other matters in case of termination of their activities, as well as other regulations concerning the peculiarities of the activities of these organisations.
The statutes (regulations) or other documents regulating the dogmatic side of activities and solving internal problems of the religious organisations shall not be registered in the state authorities. The state shall note and respect the internal regulations of the religious organisations if these regulations are presented to the respective state authorities and do not contradict to the legislation in force.
Article 15. Religious Organisations as Legal Entities
The religious organisations shall be recognised to be legal entities from the moment of registration of their statutes (regulations).
The religious organisations as legal entities shall exercise rights and fulfill duties in accordance with the legislation and their statutes (regulations).
Article 16. Registration of Statutes of Religious Organisations
In order the religious community may get the legal capacity of a legal entity, the citizens-founders in the number of at least ten persons at least eighteen years old residing in the same point or in adjacent points shall present the application with the enclosure of the statute (regulations) to the city (town) or district executive committee at the place of planned activities of the community. Should the religious community belong to particular religious Organisation, this fact shall be indicated in the statute and confirmed by the respective religious board or centre.
The city (town) or district executive committees shall consider the application and send the same to the respective regional (Oblast) executive committee or the Minsk City Executive Committee with their conclusion within two weeks.
After receiving the materials presented for the registration, the regional (Oblast) executive committees or Minsk City Executive Committee shall consider them and take the decision on the registration or refusal of the registration of the statute (regulations) and inform the religious Organisation thereof.
In case of absence of the confirmation as specified in the first part of the present Article, the regional (Oblast) executive committees or Minsk City Executive Committee shall be entitled to request additional materials and obtain the conclusions of the specialists. In this case the decision shall be taken within three months.
The religious associations, centres, boards and religious fraternities, cloisters, missions, ecclesiastical educational institutions created by them shall present their statutes (regulations) for registration to the state body of the Republic of Belarus for the affairs of religions which shall take the decision within one month.
Article 17. Refusal of Registration of the Statute of a Religious Organisation
The decision on the refusal of the registration of the statute
(regulations) of a religious Organisation shall be sent to the applicants
in writing with the indication of the reason of the refusal. It may be
appealed against this decision or failure to taking the decision within
the term established to the court in the order established for the
appellation against the illegal actions of the state and public
authorities and officials infringing the rights of the citizens.
Article 18. Termination of Activities of Religious Organisations
The activities of religious organisations may be terminated only in case of their liquidation in accordance with their own decisions. In case of violation of the regulations of the present Law and other laws of the Republic of Belarus, the decision on the termination of their activities shall be taken by the court.
The activity of religious organisations shall be terminated in legal form in the cases of-
1) commitment of the actions prohibited as per Articles 3, 7 and 19 of
the present Law by them;
2) connection of their rite or homiletic activities with the
encroachment on the life, health, freedom and dignity of a person;
3) systematic violation by the religious organisations of the order of
holding of public religious actions (divine services, rites,
ceremonies as well as processions);
4) compulsion of citizens to the failure to fulfill their constitution
duties or commitment actions accompanying by gross breach of public
order or encroachment on the rights and property of state, social
action or religious organisations.
The court shall consider the cases of the termination of activities of religious organisations in the order established in the Civil Process Code of the Republic of Belarus according to the application of the body authorised to register their statutes or Procurator.
Chapter 3. Property Status of Religious Organisations
Article 19. Use of the Property Owned by the State, Social Organisations and Citizens
Religious organisations use the buildings and property given them on contractual basis by the state authorities and institutions, social organisations as well as citizens for their needs in accordance with their statutes (regulations). Local executive and administrative bodies and state bodies may transfer to them the church buildings, structures and cult property into ownership or free use in accordance with the legislation. Religious organisations have preferential right of transfer of the cult buildings with the adjacent territory to them except for those used as cultural objects.
The decision on the question of transfer of cult buildings and property to the religious organisations shall be taken not later than within one month from the moment of receiving of appropriate application and the written notification thereof shall be sent simultaneously to the applicants.
The objects and articles, which are monuments of history or culture, shall be transferred in accordance with the legislation in force.
The religious societies, cloisters, religious fraternities, missionary societies (missions), ecclesiastical educational institutions may transfer their praying houses and cult property to another religious organisations only with the consent of the religious centre or board, to which they are subordinated.
Unauthorised occupation of buildings, structures and other cult property is not allowed.
Disputes on the matters concerning the possession and use of the cult buildings and property shall be settled in legal form unless otherwise provided by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.
Religious organisations shall possess and use the land in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 20. Property of Religious Organisations
Religious organisations may be owners of buildings, cult articles, objects of production, social and charitable purpose, monetary means and other property necessary for carrying out their activities.
Religious organisations have the right for the property acquired or created by them at the cost of their own means, donated by citizens, organisations or transferred by the state as well as acquired on other basis as provided by the Law.
Religious organisations may have property on the territory of other states.
Religious organisations are entitled to get voluntary financial and other donations.
Financial and property donations as well as other incomes of the religious organisations are not taxable.
The state may render assistance in the restoration of cult buildings, other objects and articles having historical and cultural value.
The property rights of religious organisations shall be protected by the Law.
Article 21. Production and Economic Activities of Religious Organisations
Religious organisations are entitled to create publish, printing, production, restoring and building, agricultural and other enterprises being subject to state registration as well as charitable institutions
(shelters, boarding schools, hospitals, etc.)
The profit from the production activities and other incomes of the enterprises of religious organisations are taxable in accordance with the legislation in force.
Article 22. Disposal of the Property of the Religious Organisations Which Terminated Their Activities
After the termination of the activities of the religious organisations the property given them in use by the state or other organisations shall be returned to the former owners.
In case of termination of activities of the religious organisations the
property owned by them shall be disposed of in accordance with their
statutes (regulations) and legislation in force.
The property of cult purpose owned by the religious organisations is not
subject to the creditors claims.
Should there be no successors, the property shall be transferred into ownership of the state.
Chapter 4. Right of Religious Organisations and Citizens Bound with the Freedom of Religions
Article 23. Religious Rites and Ceremonies
Religious organisations are entitled to found and maintain the freely accessible places of divine services or religious meetings as well as the places revered in particular religion (places of pilgrimage).
The divine services, religious rites and ceremonies shall be held in praying houses and of the adjacent territory, at the pilgrimage places, the institutions of the religious organisations, the cemeteries and crematoria, in the apartments and houses of the citizens.
Servicemen shall solemnise religious rites and ceremonies at the time free of service.
The divine services and religious rites in clinics, hospitals, houses for aged and disabled persons, at the places of preliminary confinement and service of sentences shall be solemnised on the requests of the peoples being in such institutions. The administration of such institutions shall promote the solemnisation of the divine service, rite or ceremony.
In other cases the public divine services, religious rites and ceremonies shall be solemnised in the order established for holding assemblies, meetings, demonstrations and processions.
Religious organisations are entitled to appeal to the citizens in clinics, hospitals, houses for aged and disabled persons, institution of confinement as well as to the administration of such institutions with the offer the divine services. The persons in such institutions are entitled to have, receive, acquire and use the religious literature and cult articles unless such use cause damage to their health.
The disclosure of the secret of confession is not allowed.
The religious rites in relation to the persons less than 15 years old shall be solemnised with the consent of their parents or persons replacing them according to the Law.
Article 24. Religious Literature and Articles of Religious Purpose
The citizens and religious organisations are entitled to acquire and use the religious literature in the language selected by them as well as other articles and materials of religious purpose.
Religious organisations are entitled to manufacture, export, import and distribute the articles of religious purpose, religious literature and other information materials with the religious content in the order established by the legislation.
Religious organisations have the exclusive right of creation of enterprises for issuing the divine-service literature and manufacturing the articles of religious purpose.
Issue of periodical publications of religious character and other religious literature having no divine-service purpose shall be carried out in accordance with the legislation of the printing and mass communications.
Article 25. Charitable, Cultural and Educational Activities of Religious Organisations
Religious organisations are entitled to carry out charitable activities either independently or through religious fraternities, missionary societies (missions).
Boards and centres of religious organisations are entitled to create the mass media in the order and on the conditions established by the legislation in force.
Article 26. International Communications and Contacts of Believers and Religious Organisations
Citizens and religious organisations are entitled to establish and maintain on either group or individual basis the international communications and direct personal contacts including travels abroad for the purposes of pilgrimage, participation in religious events.
Religious organisations may send the citizens abroad for study at the ecclesiastical educational institutions and admit foreign citizens or persons without citizenship for these purposes.
Chapter 5. Regulations of Labour Relations in Religious Organisations and the Enterprises Created by Them
Article 27. Regulation of Labour Relations in Religious Organisations and at the Enterprises Created by Them
The labour relations in Religious organisations and at the enterprises created by them shall be regulated by the legislation in force.
The incomes from the work at religious organisations earned by citizens including priests shall be taxable in the order and at the rates established by the legislation.
The citizens working at religious organisations under a labour contract may be members of a trade union.
Article 28. Social Security and Social Insurance of Citizens Employed in Religious Organisations
Citizens employed in religious organisations including priests are subject to social security and social insurance equally with the workers and employees of state and social enterprises, institutions and organisations.
For these purposes the religious organisations, their enterprises and institutions shall make deductions to the Fund for Social Security of the Population of the Republic of Belarus in the order and at the rates established by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.
Chapter 6. Ensuring the Observance of the Legislation on the Freedom Religion and Religious
Article 29. State Bodies Assuring the Observance of the Legislation on the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations
The State Body of the Republic of Belarus for the affairs of religion shall be formed by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. It shall consider and solve the questions arisen in the sphere of relations between the state and religious organisations.
Acting in this capacity it shall:
- establish contacts and coordinating communications with analogous institutions in other states;
- create the databank concerning religious organisations in the Republic and observance of the legislation on the freedom of religion and religious organisations;
_ render assistance to the religious organisations on their request in achieving agreements with the state bodies by them as well as assistance in the matters requiring the solution by the state bodies;
- promote the strengthening of the mutual understanding and tolerance between the religious organisations of different confessions;
- provide the local executive and administrative bodies with the methodical recommendations and consultations on the matters concerning the observance and application of the legislation on the freedom of religion and religious organisations;
- ensure the theological examinations with the participation of the representatives of religious organisations and appropriate specialists;
- register the statutes (regulations) of religious associations, centres, boards and the religious fraternities, cloisters, missions, and ecclesiastical educational institutions created by them;
- represent the Government in the relations with religious organisations and their representatives on the instruction of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus.
The observance of the legislation on the freedom of religion and religious organisations at the places shall be ensured by the local Councils of Deputies as well as local executive and administrative bodies.
The regional (Oblast) executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee may create the bodies (departments) for the communications with the religious organisations in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Belarus On the Local Administration and Self-Administration in the Republic of Belarus(D.
Article 30. Responsibility for Violation of the Legislation on the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organisations
The officials and citizens guilty of violation of the legislation on the freedom of religion and religious organisations shall bear the responsibility established by the legislation of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 3 1. International Treaties
Should the rules established by an international treaty, to which the Republic of Belarus is a party, be different from those contained in the legislation on the freedom of religion and religious organisations, the rules established by the international treaty shall be applied.