Anti-Conversion Laws

Anti-Conversion Laws

Four countries in South and Southeast Asia—India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bhutan—have laws that severely regulate religious conversion. Government officials and the police, in line with increasingly nationalist politicians and lawmakers, selectively enforce these laws, effectively banning conversion from the majority religion to a minority religion, in particular Christianity and Islam. This article examines the language of these anti-conversion laws, the political and religious contexts in which they became law, and their effects on religious minorities.

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental, universal human right. It is recognized in core international human rights treaties. It protects every human person, regardless of his or her religion or belief or lack thereof. Freedom of religion or belief has an internal component (forum internum) and an external component (forum externum). The significance given to religious freedom in law is a recognition that a person’s religion or belief, or lack thereof, is a fundamental part of who
he or she is and how he or she lives. Therefore, protection of religious freedom recognizes and preserves human dignity.