‘Love Jihad’ Laws: UP Cabinet Clears Ordinance on Conversion
The ordinance targets forced conversions and reportedly makes conversion solely for marriage illegal.
The Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday, 24 November, cleared its controversial proposed ordinance – ostensibly on unlawful conversions, but promoted recently by chief minister Yogi Adityanath and others to tackle what it and other BJP-ruled states have called ‘love jihad’.
The UP cabinet was scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the ordinance among other matters. Cabinet minister Siddharth Nath Singh confirmed the development to ANI.
Adityanath had recently re-emphasised a push for a law dealing with the issue, saying at a public rally in Jaunpur:
“The government will also work to curb ‘Love Jihad’, we’ll enact a strict law. I warn those who conceal their identity and play with the honour of our sisters and daughters, if you don’t mend your ways, your ‘Ram naam satya’ journey will begin.”
The UP State Law Commission had prepared a report on forced and unlawful conversions in the state which is how the matter has been framed legislatively. The UP Law Commission had submitted a draft ‘Uttar Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2019’ to the government last year, which included a provision saying that religious conversion done only for the purpose of marriage would be illegal.
Siddharth Nath Singh also gave some details of the ordinance to ANI, saying: “The ordinance provides for jail term of 1-5 years with a Rs 15,000 penalty for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors & women of SC/SC community, there will be jail term of 3-10 years with Rs 25,000 penalty.”
He also added that if a person wants to perform marriage after converting into any other religion, they will need to take permission from the relevant District Magistrate two months before the marriage
The Economic Times had reported on Saturday, 21 November that the new law being brought in in UP would do the same, making conversion for the sake of marriage illegal. Any marriage entered into after such a conversion can be declared null and void based on a complaint by any third party, including the family of the victim.
An investigation can be triggered based solely on the fact that a woman has converted only for the purpose of marriage.
There is no actual reference to the term ‘love jihad’ in this ordinance, according to reports.
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