A leading Catholic bishop in India has applauded a state government’s decision to recommend repealing a controversial anti-conversion law, which critics saw as a means of intimidating religious minorities in the largely Hindu nation. Source: Crux.
“We are happy with the decision to repeal the anti-conversion law passed by the previous government,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. “It was discriminatory, anti-constitutional and unnecessary.”
The move in the southeastern state of Karnataka to repeal the Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act must still be adopted by the state’s legislature, with debate scheduled to begin on July 3. The bill had been adopted last year under a state government led by the BJP, the right-wing Hindu nationalist party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The bill brought by the BJP in 2022 will be repealed, and the bill which we are bringing will be in accordance with the Constitution,” Karnataka Law Minister HK Patil was quoted as saying by the Indian news agency PTI.
The anti-conversion law had proposed imprisonment of three to five years with a fine of $300, while for violation with respect to minors, women and members of India’s protected classes, the offenders faced imprisonment of three to 10 years and a fine of not less than $600.
The law also set up a cumbersome process for free acts of religious conversion, requiring the convert to provide 30 days’ notice to a district magistrate and allowing parties wishing to object to do so within that timeframe, which could trigger a formal investigation.