Christian leaders speak out against India’s newest anti-conversion law
According to Asia News, Christian leaders in India’s Uttar Pradesh State are speaking out against the passing of a new anti-conversion law. With this law, the state government will be able to regulate all religious conversions and punish individuals it deems to be engaged in "fraudulent religious conversions."
On the 24th of February, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly approved the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill 2021. According to this law, individual seeking to change their religion for any reason must seek government permission to do so sixty days in advance of their conversion.
The law also criminalises religious conversions through “marriage, deception, coercion, or attraction.” Individuals convicted of engaging in fraudulent religious conversions could face a prison sentence of three to ten years and a fine of 25,000 rupees (340 USD).
According to Article 25 of India’s constitution, Indian citizens have the fundamental right to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice. The new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh flies directly in the face of this fundamental right.
“The anti-conversion law goes against a person’s fundamental freedom to choose and practice a religion of their choice.” Gerald Mathias, Bishop of the Diocese of Lucknow, told Asia News. “It is absurd to get permission from the magistrate if you want to convert to another religion,” Bishop Mathias continued. “It also makes interfaith marriages almost impossible, thus depriving adults of the freedom to choose their partner.”
Bishop Mathias pointed out that the new law will not regulate ” reconversions” to Hinduism. He fears this will give radical Hindu nationalists space to use force, intimidation, and threats to convert low caste Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.