Recognition of religious groups: Anderlecht Christian Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses v Belgium


In Belgium, the recognition of religions is a federal matter. Faith groups may apply for recognition but that is optional rather than compulsory and the procedure is not enshrined in legislation but derived from administrative practice. There are currently six recognised religious denominations: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Anglicanism, Islam and Orthodoxy – but not the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witnesses have chapels in the Brussels-Capital Region where, in 2017, the legislature amended the Income Tax Code from the 2018 fiscal year to restrict the exemption from property tax (précompte immobilier) on places of worship to “recognised religions” – which meant that the Witnesses could no longer claim the exemption. Appeals to the domestic courts were unsuccessful.

In Anderlecht Christian Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses & Others v Belgium [2022] ECHR No 20165/20 [in French only] they challenged the refusal, arguing that the new legislation in the Brussels region had discriminated against them Continue reading