Last Updated 4 November 2021

Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament, landlocked between Switzerland and Austria.

The estimated population is 38,200 in 2021.1,of%20the%20total%20world%20population According to the 2015 census, 73.4% of the population of Liechtenstein is Catholic, 6.3% is Protestant and 5.9% is
World Atlas records in 2019 report that the religious demographics are 75.9% Roman Catholic, 8.5% Protestant, 5.4% Muslims, 5.4% Atheists, 1.1% Orthodox Christian, and 3.7% Unspecified.3 Other figures suggest that atheism has doubled in recent years.4 Records also indicate that both Atheists and Muslims have doubled in number over the last 20 years.5;

Systemic Discrimination
Mostly Satisfactory
Free and Equal

Constitution and government

The Constitution6 and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of opinion and expression. Article 37 (1) of the Constitution guarantees freedoms of belief & conscience for all persons as well as stating the Roman Catholic Church as being the country’s official religion. Article 39 guarantees that civil and political rights are not dependent on religious belief. Article 40 guarantees freedom of expression & opinion. Article 41 guarantees the right of free association. However, in Article 37 (1) the Constitution establishes the Catholic Church as the “National Church” of Liechtenstein.

The Constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of religion or belief, as stated above, the Constitution guarantees these rights in Articles 37 (1), 39, 40 & 41. The Criminal Code7 prohibits any form of discrimination against or debasement of any religion or its adherents. However, according to Article 37 (1) of the Constitution, Roman Catholicism is the state religion “with full protection from the state.” As such, it receives higher government subsidies than other religious organization, holds a guaranteed role in education and religious teaching in schools, and has a voice in the political and legal decision-making process.8 As of 2019, according to a report by LHRA (Liechtenstein Human Rights Association), no further steps were being made to separate Church from State.9

Liechtenstein has one of the most politically powerful unelected monarchs in Europe. The Government is appointed by the reigning Prince, following a proposal by Parliament, and is a collegial body consisting of a Prime Minister and 4 Ministers. It reports to Parliament and the reigning Prince, who is also the Head of State.10 The prince, as hereditary Head of State, has the power to appoint the Prime Minister on recommendation of Parliament, to veto legislation and the outcome of national referendums, as well as to nominate judges, dismiss the government, and dissolve the parliament.11

Religious funding

The government gives money not only to the Catholic Church, but also to other denominations. Catholic and Protestant churches receive regular annual contributions from the government in proportion to membership as determined in the 2000 census; smaller religious groups are eligible to apply for grants for associations of foreigners or specific projects.12

Education and children’s rights

The Child Rights Law13 requires religious education in both private and public school curriculums. The curriculum is written by the Catholic Church. Catholic or Protestant Reformed religious education is compulsory in all primary schools, but exemptions are routinely granted.14 Children may apply for exemption but have to take “Ethics and Religion” as a subject instead.15 In secondary school pupils may choose between Catholic Religious Education or a general course in Religion and Culture, taught from a sociological perspective.16 Since its introduction in 2003, 90 percent of Catholic pupils have chosen the non-confessional subject.17 The organization and finance of Islamic Education is allowed as an elective subject in public primary schools.18 Islamic religious classes have been introduced in some primary schools since 2008. The curriculum for Catholic confessional education is determined by the Roman Catholic Church with only a minor complementary supervisory role by the municipalities.19

Laws regarding the exploitation of minors

The sentence for sexual exploitation of minors/statutory rape is 1 to 10 years imprisonment.20 In 2018 there were 5 cases of sexual exploitation reported by the National Police.21 In Liechtenstein, the age of consent is 14 and the legal marriage age is 18.22 Possession/distribution of child porn is punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years.23 The ABGB or Civil Code provisions protecting child rights and allows courts to hear the child before a case involving them, if it is appropriate, or alternatively to speak to a member of Social Services.24

Family, community and society

It is illegal to refuse service, or membership of any association, for a person based on his or her “religious affiliation”.25


Section 96 of the Liechtenstein Penal Code26 bans abortion under all circumstances except if there is risk to life or serious harm to health of the pregnant woman or “if she was unmarried and not yet 14 years of age at the time of conception (provided the procedure is performed by a physician)”.27 Other abortions carried out by a physician with the consent of the pregnant woman are therefore unlawful, and are punishable by up to one year of imprisonment for both physician and patient.28

On 18 September 2011, the “Help Instead of Punishment” referendum to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or in case the child would be severely disabled, was narrowly defeated (52.3 percent of the electorate voted for the status quo).29 A second attempt in 2011/2012 was also defeated.30 In a speech delivered the month prior, Prince Alois, as acting Head of State, had indicated his opposition to the law and threatened to veto the decriminalization proposal in case it passed.31

LGBTI+ rights

Same-sex registered partnerships were passed by the parliament in March 2011.32,be%20implemented%20in%20September%202011. The law was to take effect on 1 September 2011, unless a referendum took place. The Vox Populi collected enough signatures to hold a referendum, which took place in June 2011.33,be%20implemented%20in%20September%202011. Voters approved the law (68.8 percent) and it went into effect on 1 September 2011.34;art477,73556

However, same-sex couples are not allowed to make joint adoptions.35;art169,406563 Prince Hans-Adam II has publicly espoused his opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples, as recently as February 2021.36

Ethnic and religious discrimination

According to the US Office of International Religious Freedom in 2020,37 the Islamic community are still unable to get permission for a cemetery or to build Mosques or additional prayer rooms. As such, there is only 1 prayer room in the country.38 According to the Liechtenstein Institute, Muslims often face difficulties in renting prayer facilities due to social discrimination, as well as discrimination in the labor market.39

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

The Constitution guarantees freedoms of expression and the media, and these freedoms are respected in practice.40 Freedoms of assembly and association are also protected and respected in practice.41 The government has cooperated with Humanist organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, to establish a system for refugee assistance and protection.42 Section 8 of the Liechtenstein Criminal Code prescribes criminal penalties for public incitement to hatred towards a religious group, religious discrimination, or – more worryingly – the “debasement” of any religion by spoken, written, visual, or electronic means.43 However there is no evidence that this last provision could be used in the absence of incitement to hatred and therefore does not function as a quasi-blasphemy law.

Denial, trivialization, and justification of genocide and other crimes against humanity are also prohibited according to the Liechtenstein Criminal Code. Penalties according to the Criminal Code state that these may include a prison sentence of up to two years.


3, 4
9, 14, 15, 16, 18, 24, 37
12, 17
20, 21
29, 31
32, 33,be%20implemented%20in%20September%202011.
40, 41

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