Subject: Religion in the Constitution

Section 11 (Valorisation of Resistance)

2. The State acknowledges and values the participation of the Church in the process of national liberation of East Timor.

Section 12 (Relationship between the State and religious denominations) 

1. There shall be no official religion of the State.

2. The State shall respect the different religious denominations, which are free in their organisation and in the exercise of their own activities, to take place in due observance of the Constitution and the law.

3. The State shall promote the cooperation with the different religious denominations that contribute to the well-being of the people of East Timor.

4. The religious denominations have the right to possess and to acquire assets for the achievement of their objectives.

Section 16 (Universality and Equality)

2. No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of colour, race, marital status, gender, ethnical origin, social or economic status, political or ideological convictions, religion, education and physical or mental condition.

Section 25 (State of exception)

5. In no case shall a declaration of a state of siege affect the right to life, physical integrity, citizenship, non-retroactivity of the criminal law, defence in a criminal case and freedom of conscience and religion.

Section 45 (Freedom of conscience, religion and worship)

1. Every person is guaranteed the freedom of conscience, religion and worship and the religious denominations are separated from the State.

2. No one shall be persecuted or discriminated against on the basis of his or her religious convictions.

3. The right to be a conscientious objector shall be guaranteed in accordance with the law.

4. Freedom to teach any religion in the framework of the respective religious denomination is guaranteed.

Section 156 (Limits on matters of revision)

1. Laws revising the Constitution shall respect:

h) The inexistence of an official religion of the State

2. Paragraphs c), h) and j) may be reviewed through a national referendum, in accordance with the law.


From: Sydney Morning Herald, February 11, 2002: East Timor approves draft constitution

Deputies were lobbied by key sectors of Timorese society, including the Catholic Church and media organisations. Many had grievances with earlier drafts, most of which appeared to have been satisfied.

Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo had earlier published a series of objections to the first draft. These included article 12, which used the phrase separation of church and state'', and article 39, which referred to divorce. Article 12 has since been changed to refer instead to relations between the state and religious groups'', while the offending passage in article 39 was eliminated in the closing hours of the debate.

Text of Feb. 9 Draft Constitution:  Original Portuguese: PDF, MSWord, Official translations:  English: PDFMSWord. Official Bahasa Indonesian: PDF, MSWord. Tetum: PDF, MSWord. Original draft: English, Portuguese


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