TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Uzbekistan’s new religion law went into effect July 6 and maintains almost all the previous law’s restrictions on religious freedom.
The government drafted and adopted the law almost entirely in secret and in defiance of human rights obligations to several agencies, including the United Nations. (Uzbekistan sits on the U.N. Human Rights Council.)
The new law requires state permission to exercise freedom of religion, to share beliefs or teach religion. Publication, distribution and importation of printed or electronic materials are banned without prior state censorship. The process for mandatory registration with the state remains burdensome for religious entities.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said the new law does lift a ban on the public wearing of religious attire by non-registered clergy, and reduces to 50 the number of adult founders required for a religious entity to exist. Previously, the requirement was 100 founders.
Uzbekistan is No. 21 on Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.