San Marino

Last Updated 25 September 2018

San Marino is a microstate encircled by Italy, and in proportion to its population is the world’s most Catholic country.

Severe Discrimination
Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

San Marino has no state religion and enshrines and broadly respects non-discrimination principles. However, there is official deference to Catholic symbols and blasphemy laws remain in place.

The constitution and other legal instruments prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion. These rights are largely respected. While San Marino has no state religion, Roman Catholicism is dominant, and crucifixes can often be found in government offices and courthouses.

A mechanism is in place by which taxpayers can choose to pay 0.3% of their income tax payments to any registered religious group or charity. In practice, the Catholic Church is the main beneficiary of this. It is not clear if this state-run fundraising mechanism would be extended to atheistic and humanist groups, though the various deferential treatment given to the Catholic Church at present, may suggest not.

Education and children’s rights

State schools provide Catholic religious instruction. Students may choose not to participate, but no alternative religious or non-religious instruction is provided.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

‘Blasphemy’ law

San Marino still has blasphemy laws in place. They do not appear to be used but remain on statute.

The Penal Code under section 260 on “religious insult”, criminalizes “profaning” the symbols of a religion (as long as those symbols do not run contrary to public morality – which suggest a further discriminatory element in the law). The same section criminalizes “profaning” objects of worship or publicly mocking acts of worship, offences to the honour and dignity of a minister, and “profaning” the sacred relics of San Marino. All are imprisonable offences.

In 2007, some Italian groups circulated a book titled “The Little Atheist” in schools. The book promoted an atheistic view and criticized the Catholic Church. The book was publicly denounced by Catholic bishops who dismissed it as “propaganda”, but its circulation does not appear to have been blocked.

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