MPs discuss religious conversion bill in Upper House

The religious conversion bill came before the Upper House with two MPs backing the motion while another opposed it, saying it was too early to enact it.

The bill is aimed at preventing forced conversions to another religion. Anyone wishing to convert to another religion would need to apply for permission to a committee under the proposed law.

The two MPs who supported the discussion were Marn Kan Nyunt of Kayin State’s no.2 constituency and Khin Maung (a) Aung Kyaw Oo of Rakhine State’s no.3 constituency. The MP who opposed the bill was Paul Htan Htine of Chin State’s no.3 constituency.

“We back this bill. We have the right to freedom of worship. This law would protect forced marriage. This law ensures security to us. Religious customs are not found in Buddhist marriages [unlike those of other religions]. The law is to protect the religion but not to restrict other ones. Punishment is quite slight. If one is found guilty, the punishment would be up to two years in prison and a fine of not more than Ks200,000,” Khin Maung (a) Aung Kyaw Oo said.

Paul Htan Htine said: “It is too early for this law to be enacted. Some will use it as a political game. Our country has only just started practising democracy. The Constitution provides us freedom of worship.” 

Speaker Khin Aung Myint asked the Upper House to discuss the religious conversion bill in a quiet and careful way.