NEPAL – Parliament passes new anti-conversion bill and potential “blasphemy” law
Earlier this month (8 August), Nepal’s parliament passed a bill restricting religious conversion and criminalising “hurting religious sentiment.” The new legislation, which the country’s president is expected to sign into law imminently, will mean anyone convicted of encouraging someone to convert could be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment.
Under a clause introduced into Nepal’s constitution in 2015, actions to “convert another person from one religion to another” are already illegal and have resulted in Christians facing prosecution. However, the new laws could in effect be used to make all evangelism illegal.
The second part of the legislation, which criminalises “hurting religious sentiment,” has been likened to “blasphemy” laws in Pakistan. The vaguely-worded clause states “Nobody should hurt the religious sentiment of any caste, ethnic community or class by writing, through voice/talk or by a shape or symbol or in any other such manner.” Those found guilty will face a fine and two years in prison.
Nepal is officially a secular republic, but was until 2008 a Hindu kingdom, and extremist groups are campaigning for the country to become a Hindu nation again. The population of Nepal is around 80% Hindu, with a tiny Christian minority.
From ADF International here