Sri Lanka

The Criminal Code under article 290 prohibits injury or “defilement” to places of worship, and under article 291 the “disturbance” of worship. 290A further criminalizes any act in a variety of circumstances within or near places of worship which is intended to “wound religious feelings” or may be considered an “insult” to religion.

Moreover, the law goes on to criminalize in very broad terms any act, including speech acts and written words, made with the intention of “wounding the religious feelings of any person” (article 291A) or “outraging the religious feelings of any class of persons” (291B), respectively.

These are all imprisonable offences.

Police often take strict action against perceived insults to Buddhism. Foreign tourists perceived to be “disrespecting” the religion have regularly fallen foul of the law.

In April 2014 a British woman who said she held Buddhist beliefs was deported from Sri Lanka for having a tattoo of Buddha on her arm. Police said she was arrested and detained for “hurting religious feelings”. Naomi Coleman was held in Immigration Detention centre before being deported. Other European tourists have faced similar accusations previously.