Myanmar president signs final ‘religious protection’ law
Myanmar president signs final ‘religious protection’ law

[JURIST] Myanmar President Thein Sein signed the Monogamy Bill into law on Monday, prohibiting marriage to more than one spouse or living with an unmarried partner, which many view as an attack on the minority Muslim population in the country. The bill [Reuters report] is one of four recent laws backed by the Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion (Ma Ba Tha), a Buddhist group, collectively called “Race and Religion Protection Laws.” Earlier this month the Myanmar parliament also approved the Religious Conversion Bill, which requires anyone wishing to change their religion to file an application with the local board for approval. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has called these laws “discriminatory” and incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and urged [press release] the president to reject them.

As part of the Race and Religion Protection Laws, Sein also signed [JURIST report] the Population Control Health Care bill into law in May, requiring some mothers to space the births of their children three years apart. This bill was also criticized [JURIST report] by rights groups as targeting the nation’s Muslim population. Groups have expressed concern over the possibility that it will increase tension among Buddhists and Muslims. Advocacy groups Amnesty International (AI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [advocacy websites] urged the president to reject or revise these laws as far back as March, arguing [JURIST report] that they would “entrench already widespread discrimination and risk fueling further violence against religious minorities.”