Myanmar Parliament

Myanmar parliament discusses laws that would restrict religion and family.

The President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, has recently approved a draft law that has gained the disapproval of many people – and yet he has submitted the draft law to parliament for discussion. This law covers religion and family planning procedures, and due to the tensions between Muslims and Buddhists in the country, critics are saying that the proposed law would naturally discriminate against many in the nation.

The new draft was written by a group of nationalist Buddhist monks called “Mabatha” or the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion. The law would severely restrict and hinder interfaith marriages and religious conversions. This restriction of religious freedoms is something that many disapprove of, but this is new law is not an isolated incident. Instead, it is one of four new sets of laws being discussed and considered in Myanmar, and all of them could impact marriage, polygamy, family planning, and a person’s religion.

The proposed law would require any person within Myanmar who wished to change their religion to apply to the government for permission to do so. Any failure to to apply or comply with the government’s decision would result in penalties. Couples who wished to marry and start a family but were from different religions would also have to apply for a special license. They would then only be permitted to marry if no one objected – and if they defied this rule, they could be sent to prison for two years.

The Kachin Peace Network has objected to these proposed laws very strongly, and Khun Jar from the organisation commented, “This law is one that the government should reject if it wants people to live in peace as many ethnicities and religions live together in this country.”

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