Nepal bans evangelisation, religious conversion

Nepal will pass a bill next week criminalising religious conversions and banning ‘hurting religious sentiment’.

Once it is signed, a clause in Nepal’s new constitution barring religious conversion will come into effect.

Anyone convicted under the new law could face up to five years in prison for seeking to convert a person or “undermine the religion, faith or belief that any caste, ethnic group or community has been observing since sanatan [eternal] times.”

Anyone who “hurts religious sentiment” also faces up to two years in prison and a 2,000 rupee fine.

Foreign visitors are expected to follow the law or they could face the same punishments as locals.

Although the bill does not mention any religious group specifically, it is similar to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

That law is frequently abused to harass minorities, particularly Christians. Nepal is over 80 per cent Hindu, with Christians making up barely one per cent of the population.

Human rights activists are calling for the Nepalese legislation to be changed, saying it will be used to target Nepal’s fringe religions including Christians and the country’s small Catholic population.

Last year eight Christians were arrested and charged with attempting to convert children after they handed out leaflets about Jesus to school pupils.


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