Karnataka Indian State Repeals Controversial Anti-Conversion Law

Farrukh Saif

May 17, 2024

controversial anti-conversion law

The Congress government in Karnataka India has decided to repeal the controversial anti-conversion law enacted by the previous BJP regime. This move is a significant victory for the Christian community and civil society who vehemently opposed the law.

The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, commonly known as the anti-conversion law, was enacted in 2022. It prohibited conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, allurement, or marriage. The law mandated a 30-day notice for conversions. It imposed stringent penalties for violators, including imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines.

The Congress party strongly opposed the law, describing it as “unconstitutional” and “against the right to freedom of religion” enshrined in the Constitution. After assuming power, the Siddaramaiah-led government announced its decision to repeal the law during the upcoming monsoon session of the legislature.

A Win for the Church and Civil Society:

The repeal of the anti-conversion law is being hailed as a significant victory for the Christian community and civil society organizations that had been fighting against it. Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore had led the church’s efforts to challenge the law, which was seen as a tool to target and harass religious minorities, particularly Christians.

Civil society has also raised concerns about the law’s potential for misuse and its infringement on personal liberties. The myths of “conversion for dollars” fueled a climate of fear and led to numerous instances of violence and false accusations against members of the Christian community. In the past two years, dozens of pastors and evangelists were arrested and even tortured in public by the extreme elements of society.

Addressing Christian Persecution in India:

While the repeal of the anti-conversion law in Karnataka is a positive step, concerns about the persecution of Christians in India persist.

Reports of attacks on churches, disruption of prayer services, and harassment of pastors and congregants continue to emerge from various parts of the country.

Human rights organizations have documented a rise in incidents of violence and discrimination against religious minorities, including Christians, in recent years. They have called for stronger legal protections and a more robust response from authorities to address these issues.

As the debate around religious freedom and minority rights continues, the repeal of the anti-conversion law in Karnataka serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding constitutional values and safeguarding the rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.

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Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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