Nepal Criminalizes Evangelism and Conversion

Published 02 November 2017  |  

The Nepal government on Oct. 16 has signed into law legislation that makes evangelism and religious conversion punishable by up to five years in prison.

The criminal code bill, which the Nepalese parliament approved in August, was signed by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari last week establishing further constitutional protections for Hinduism by banning religious conversion and "hurting of religious sentiment," or blasphemy.

Christian leaders in Nepal said the new law is a step backwards for religious freedom.

"We are deeply saddened that this bill is now law," said Pr Tanka Subedi, founder and chairman of Dharmik Chautari Nepal and Religious Liberty Forum Nepal.

"Our appeals to the president and other policy makers to amend this have been ignored. Nepali government have taken a regressive step as this law severely restricts our freedom of expression and our freedom of religion or belief," Subedi added.

According to a Nepali Christian site, a section of the new law reads:

No one should involve or encourage in conversion of religion.

No one should convert a person from one religion to another religion or profess them own religion and belief with similar intention by using or not using any means of attraction and by disturbing religion or belief of any ethnic groups or community that being practiced since ancient times.

If found guilty; there will be punishment of five years of imprisonment and penalty of fifty thousand rupees [approximately $770 USD]. If foreigners are found guilty; they will have to be deported within seven days after completing the imprisonment in third clause.

Nepal leaders are concerned that the new law might be misused to target religious minorities.


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