Insert unilateral conversion ban or just scrap Bill altogether, faith group insists


Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7- The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has urged Putrajaya to reinstate a unilateral conversion ban clause which was earlier revoked from the a proposed Bill today.

Its vice president Jagir Singh told Malay Mail Online that since Section 88A in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 has now been withdrawn, injustices will continue for a non-converting spouse whose children can then be unilaterally converted.

“Our council hopes that the newly-amended Bill which is due to be tabled tomorrow, if it does not include the requirement that both parents should consent, then it should be withdrawn altogether and brought back to the drawing board again.

“This is a big setback to the justice in such cases where the marriage is under the civil law, and one party has converted to Islam. This move will cause further injustice to the non-converting spouse,” Jagir said when contacted.“Section 88A in its original form must stand, or else there will be no remedy even for 100 years,” he added.

The group representing minority faiths said it was taken aback by the ruling coalition’s move, as it had been championing for the amendment for over 10 years.

Putrajaya had earlier today withdrew a Bill from Parliament that would have prohibited the religious conversion of children needing only the consent of one parent after conservative Muslims protested against it.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman informed the withdrawal of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 in the Dewan Rakyat this morning.

In a statement issued later, Azalina said the government will table a new version of the Bill for first reading tomorrow, but with the removal of Section 88(A) that states that should a spouse convert to Islam, a child must remain in the religion of the parents during their marriage prior to the conversion unless both spouses agree to convert their child to Islam, subject to the child’s wishes upon turning 18.

Many had anticipated the government to table the Bill for second reading in the current Dewan Rakyat sitting after it was already delayed in April.