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Freedom of religion

Individual freedom of religion is one of the fundamental laws.  It is anchored in the Federal Constitution, as well as the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religious or philosophical affiliation. Like all rights concerning freedoms, freedom of religion, however, generally integrated into the democratic rule of law and may, in part, be limited.    

Under Article 15 of the Federal Constitution, "everyone has the right to choose freely his religion and to create his philosophical convictions and to profess them alone or in community." Also, "everyone has the right to join a religious community or to belong there and follow religious teachings”.

However, this means also that "no person shall be forced to join or belong to a religious community, to perform a religious act or follow religious teachings”. Thus, anyone is free, in Switzerland, to leave a religious community or to convert himself. Article 8 of the Federal Constitution states firmly that, "no person shall be discriminated because of their origin, race, sex, age, language, social position, way of life, religious beliefs, philosophical or political beliefs or because of a physical, mental or psychological deficiency”.

Limitation of religious freedom

While the internal, personal religious conviction of an individual is the subject of absolute protection, the state has the right to restrict religious practices if:                                                                

  • There is a specific statutory provision in this regard (eg. Construction permit and development, school laws, mandates of training, equal standards, etc.).                                                                                           
  • So it is a legitimate public interest (eg. Protection of public security, measures to preserve religious peace)                                                       
  • It requires the protection of others.

The bases for the limitation of freedom of religion are found in Article 9 of the Federal Constitution, in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and in the UN Covenant on Civil and political laws. The limitations of freedom of religion must always be argued.

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