Last Updated 7 December 2023

The independence and sovereign limits of Taiwan are disputed. The People’s Republic of China insists that there is one unified China, including Taiwan, however Taiwan claims independence as a separate state. This tension means that Taiwan is only considered a separate state by 25 countries internationally. Owing to the refusal of the Chinese mainland to recognize the island nation’s dissent and independence from the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan is diplomatically isolated, but has nevertheless fashioned a nation with secular equality enshrined in law, regarded as relatively prosperous and free.

Estimates suggest that some 24% of the population are non-religious, 28% practice traditional folk religions,1http://digimuse.nmns.edu.tw/da/en/collections/ha/re/ 20% Buddhism, and 19% Taoism. The remainder of the population belongs to a range of religious groups each accounting for a small proportion of the population. Sources suggest that many individuals incorporate aspects of traditional folk religions into their other beliefs, or combine multiple faith traditions.2https://www.ait.org.tw/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom-taiwan/; https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0029044#:~:text=For%20the%20most%20part%2C%20the,worship%20combine%20all%20three%20traditions

Systemic Discrimination
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

Formally a secular state, Taiwan’s Constitution3https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Taiwan_2005 and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression, assembly and association. In particular, Article 7 highlights equality between all citizens irrespective of religion, race, sex and other parts of one’s identity. Article 13 refers to the “freedom of religious belief.” Article 11 states that citizens have freedom of speech, teaching, writing, and publication. These rights and others may only be limited “as may be necessary to prevent infringement upon the freedoms of others, to avert an imminent danger, to maintain social order, or to promote public welfare.” These rights are generally respected in practice.4https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionglobalsociety/2022/04/covenantal-pluralism-in-confucian-societies-the-taiwan-example-and-its-lessons-for-the-world/

In its 2022 International Religious Freedom Report, the US State Department noted that:5https://www.ait.org.tw/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom-taiwan/

“In August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy jointly organized a Regional Religious Freedom Forum in Taipei titled, “An Indo-Pacific Civil Society Dialogue on Religious Freedom in Challenging Times.” The forum included international participants representing eight countries. It focused on challenges to religious freedom amid growing authoritarianism in the Indo-Pacific region and the role of NGOs and civil society in countering authoritarianism. At the opening ceremony, President Tsai Ing-wen stated religious freedom was a universal human right and Taiwan “knows what it means to stand on the frontlines of authoritarian aggression.” She said Taiwan was “committed to advancing religious freedom at home and abroad” and providing a model of inclusiveness for the Indo-Pacific region.”

Education and children’s rights

According to Article 158 of the Constitution, “[e]ducation and culture shall aim at the development, among the citizens, of the national spirit, the spirit of self-government, of national morality, a healthy physical condition, scientific knowledge and the ability to earn a living.”

Article 162 of the constitution subjects all public and private cultural and educational institutions to the supervision of the state. Under the Educational Fundamental Act, compulsory religious instruction is not permitted in any Ministry of Education (MOE)-accredited public or private elementary, middle, or high school. High schools accredited by the MOE are not allowed to require religious instruction, but may provide elective courses in religious studies, provided such courses do not promote certain religious beliefs over others. Religious organizations are permitted to operate private schools.6https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawSearchContent.aspx?pcode=H0020045&kw1=religion

Family, community and society

There are no reports of discrimination as a result of religion or belief.


Abortion is a criminal offense under the Criminal Code,7https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0000001 punishable with prison or fines.

LGBTI+ rights

Same-sex marriage was made legal in 2019, despite significant opposition from Christian religious groups and political parties purporting to defend “family values.”8https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/17/taiwan-becomes-first-asian-county-to-legalise-same-sex-marriage; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/24/taiwans-top-court-rules-in-favour-of-same-sex-marriage; https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-lgbt-rights-feature-trfn-idUSKBN22X03A; https://www.taiwangazette.org/news/2018/10/5/who-is-behind-taiwans-opposition-to-same-sex-marriage-and-why-are-they-so-afraid; https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2016/12/24/2003661809; https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/10/30/2003658229 Transnational same-sex marriage is only legally recognized where the spouse is from a country in which same-sex marriages are also lawful.9https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/east-asia/taiwan/report-taiwan/

In May 2023, the government passed a bill granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children to whom neither of them are related.10https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/16/asia/taiwan-same-sex-adoption-marriage-equality-lgbtq-intl-hnk/index.html

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are guaranteed by law and generally upheld in practice.11https://freedomhouse.org/country/taiwan/freedom-world/2023 However, there are some reports that political tension between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China causes limited self-censorship.

Defamation is criminalized under the Criminal Code.


Chapter 18 of the Criminal Code pertains to “offenses against religion, graves and corpses.”

Article 246 states “A person who publicly insults a shrine, temple, church, grave, or public memorial place shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than six months, short-term imprisonment, or a fine of not more than nine thousand dollars.”


1 http://digimuse.nmns.edu.tw/da/en/collections/ha/re/
2 https://www.ait.org.tw/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom-taiwan/; https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0029044#:~:text=For%20the%20most%20part%2C%20the,worship%20combine%20all%20three%20traditions
3 https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Taiwan_2005
4 https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/religionglobalsociety/2022/04/covenantal-pluralism-in-confucian-societies-the-taiwan-example-and-its-lessons-for-the-world/
5 https://www.ait.org.tw/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom-taiwan/
6 https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawSearchContent.aspx?pcode=H0020045&kw1=religion
7 https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0000001
8 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/17/taiwan-becomes-first-asian-county-to-legalise-same-sex-marriage; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/24/taiwans-top-court-rules-in-favour-of-same-sex-marriage; https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-lgbt-rights-feature-trfn-idUSKBN22X03A; https://www.taiwangazette.org/news/2018/10/5/who-is-behind-taiwans-opposition-to-same-sex-marriage-and-why-are-they-so-afraid; https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2016/12/24/2003661809; https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/10/30/2003658229
9 https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/east-asia/taiwan/report-taiwan/
10 https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/16/asia/taiwan-same-sex-adoption-marriage-equality-lgbtq-intl-hnk/index.html
11 https://freedomhouse.org/country/taiwan/freedom-world/2023

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