06/07/2021 India (International Christian Concern) – According to News 18, the Gujarat State Government will begin to implement an amended anti-conversion law on June 15. While Gujarat is already among the nine states to enforce an anti-conversion law in India, the new amendment would criminalize forcible conversions by marriage.
The amended law was passed by the state legislature on April 1 and was approved by the governor of Gujarat in May. According to the state government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), forcible conversions by marriage are an emerging trend the amended law will seek to curb.
However, similar anti-conversion laws in other states have led to increased persecution of religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.
Hindu nationalists frequently use the specter of fraudulent mass conversions to Christianity and Islam to justify the enactment of anti-conversion laws. According to these nationalists, Christians and Muslims are accused of converting poor Hindus to Christianity and Islam in mass by fraudulent means.
Regarding Christianity, India’s population data does not support this conspiracy of mass conversions. In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up 2.3% of India’s population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still make up 2.3% of the population.
To date, no individual has been convicted of the crime of forced conversion. This is notable as some anti-conversion laws have been on the books since the late 1960s. Despite the lack of convictions, BJP governments continue to push the proliferation of anti-conversion laws and the false narratives about religious minorities that justify their enactment.
Currently, anti-conversion laws are enforced in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand. BJP-led governments in Haryana, Assam, and Karnataka have all publicly called for anti-conversion laws to be enacted, explicitly citing the issue of fraudulent mass conversions to Christianity and Islam as a justification.
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