Nepal has passed an ‘anti-conversion’ bill in its parliament which could make Christian witnessing illegal in the country. The bill criminalises ‘the hurting of religious sentiment’. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a religious freedom charity, the move is ‘deeply concerning’.
Anyone from Nepal caught committing an offence faces up to five years in prison and a £600 fine. CSW believes the bill’s wording is similar to controversial blasphemy laws in Pakistan, where people can be given the death penalty for insulting another’s religion. ‘Decades of misuse of the blasphemy laws have resulted in a situation where even voicing disagreement with these laws can lead to violence’, said Kiri Kandhwende, spokesperson for CSW.
The charity reports that the bill contains a clause stating that nobody should convert the religion of another person or encourage such acts. It urges Christians to pray for Nepali MP Lokmani Dhakal, who is challenging the bill.
According to the Christian Institute, Mr Dhakal told Nepal’s parliament: ‘It seems very clear to me that this country, when preparing the civil code, has forgotten it is a signatory to international treaties that protect the freedom of religion and human rights’.
This oppressive step has been taken by Nepal even though it greatly benefited from Christian charity work after both the terrible earthquake of 2015 and this summer’s floods.