Burma Times Correspondent: August 30, 2015
The government of Myanmar has confirmed they are adopting measures limiting interfaith marriage and religious conversion. On Saturday, the Ministry of Information said president Thein Sein had signed the Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Bill and the Religious Conversion Bill.
The bills were approved by parliament last week before being sent to the president.
The Conversion Bill requires anyone changing their religion to apply with a district level “registration board,” submit to an interview and a 90-day waiting period.
The Marriage Bill allows local registrars to publicly postpone marriage applications for 14 days. In the meantime any objections to the proposed union can be taken to court. Only if there are no objections can a couple get married.
Failure to comply is punishable by a two and a half year imprisonment.
Buddhist women aged under 20 years old would also require parental consent to marry a non-Buddhist.
The first law is prevented from stopping Buddhist converting to Islam while the second law aims at preventing Buddhist women from marrying Muslims and changing their religion.
Earlier in May, Thein Sein confirmed the Population Control Health Care Bill requiring mothers in some regions of the country to space their children at least three years apart, a measure taken to reduce population growth in Muslim majority areas, most notably Arakan state.
The president’s office has also reportedly sent back a polygamy bill with some amendments to parliament.
The controversial laws have been proposed by the Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha whose influence has increased steadily over the past few years.