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( ICC) – The Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved a bill to prevent conversion of Buddhists to other religions. In may of 2004, the Jathika Hela Urumaya party (JHU) put forward a bill to paliament on “the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion’. In addition, the minister of Budhism put forth his own bill to prohibit “Forcible Conversion” on June 16.
On June 17, the Cabinet approved the Bill to be presented to Parliament. The scope of the Minister’s Act is wider in interpretation than the Bill tabled by the JHU. This Act effectively makes conversion from one religion to another an offence under the law. Section 2 of the draft Act stipulates that no person shall convert nor attempt to convert or aid or abet acts of conversion of a person to a different religion. This Act, if it is enacted, will effectively infringe upon an individuals fundamental right of embracing a religion on his/her choice, by making the very act of conversion illegal.