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Bill Tabled In Senate Proposes 7-Year Jail, Rs100,000 Fine Over Forced Conversions

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Javed Abbasi has tabled a bill against forced conversions in the Senate that proposes seven-year imprisonment and Rs100,000 fine in case an accused is found guilty of forced proselytisation.

According to the draft of the Protection of the Rights of Religious Minorities Bill, the state would take measures to curb the forced conversion of minority communities and would also support the victims in case of such an incident. The bill also proposed 10 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 in case of forcing someone to change religion for marriage.

It further says the marriage of a minor arranged after changing her/his religion would be considered ‘coerced’ and be declared void with any haste.

In a bid to further strengthen protections that the state gives to the minority communities, the draft proposes three years jail time and Rs50,000 fine in case of hate speech or maltreatment of a member of a non-Muslim community. It also bans discriminatory chapters in textbooks.

An individual found guilty of discriminating against a person on the basis of their religion would be jailed for one year in addition to Rs25,000 fine.

The state would also protect the religious symbols of the non-Muslim Pakistanis, the draft said, proposing a seven-year sentence and Rs50,000 fine in such an incident. All of these sentences would be non-bailable, as per the bill.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has forwarded the bill to a relevant standing committee.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the parliamentarian as Javed Latif instead of Javed Abbasi. The error has since been corrected.

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