San Marino

Last Updated 26 July 2023

San Marino is a microstate encircled by Italy. Whilst the government does not collect statistics on religious demographics, the authorities report that the vast majority of the population is Roman Catholic. Other religious groups are reported to include, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baha’is, Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians, and members of the Waldensian Church. It is estimated that 1.9% of the population is non-religious, and a further 5.6% agnostic.1

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 state is currently ruled by the Christian Democratic Party, a political force with close ties to the Catholic Church.2

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 buildings, including offices, schools and courthouses.3

A Concordat signed in 1992 between the government and the Holy See provides that Catholic chaplains deliver spiritual assistance to hospital patients, retirement home residents, and prison inmates.4 A fund established under the concordat in 1993, and drawn from citizens’ voluntary income tax allocations, supports the Catholic Church’s humanitarian, welfare, and social activities as well as the maintenance of religious sites.

The law has been extended as a mechanism through which taxpayers can choose to pay 0.3% of their income tax payments to any registered religious group, including the Catholic Church, or secular groups recognized as nonprofit organizations. Taxpayers need not be members of a group to earmark a contribution. Religious organizations must be legally recognized in the country to receive this benefit.5 In practice, the Catholic Church is the main beneficiary of this.

Education and children’s rights

According to the US State Department, “The law requires Catholic religious instruction in all public schools but guarantees the right of nonparticipation without penalty, and it provides for alternative ethics classes for students who opt out of Catholic instruction.”6

The Catholic curriculum reportedly includes comparisons between Christianity and other religions and between the Bible and other religious texts. The Catholic Church selects the religious education teachers, who may be religious or lay personnel, and the state pays their salaries.7

Family, community and society

Humanists International has not received any reports of persecution of the non-religious.


In September 2022, the government passed a law that legalizes abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The Catholic Church reportedly strongly opposed the law, with the ruling Christian Democratic Party reportedly calling on the public to vote against legalizing abortion during a nationwide referendum on the subject.8;;;

The law obliges the state to identify doctors who are willing to provide abortions should local doctors exercise their right to conscientious objection; this may include bringing in doctors from abroad.9 The Catholic Church reportedly particularly opposed this measure.10

LGBTI+ rights

In 2019, 71.46% of the population voted to include sexual orientation among the protected characteristics included in the Constitution related to discrimination.11 However, to date the state only recognizes civil partnership, and it is illegal to change one’s gender.12

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, offenses to the honor and dignity of a minister, and “profaning” the sacred relics of San Marino. All are imprisonable offenses.13

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