KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 ― Putrajaya must fast-track the tabling of its proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 to end unilateral conversion, The Malaysian Bar said today.
Its president George Varughese expressed regret that the bill was not tabled for its second reading during the recently concluded parliamentary session.
“It is crucial that these amendments are brought to pass without delay, to prevent any further instances of unilateral conversion from occurring, as these are unjust, and only cause turmoil and suffering for the parent and children affected.
“The Malaysian Bar urges the Government to take all necessary steps so that the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) (Amendment) Bill 2016 is tabled and passed expeditiously, to ensure that the best interests of children are protected,” he said in a press statement.
The amendment to the Bill will only be tabled at the next parliamentary session in July.
Among the highlights of the amendments are the inclusion of a new Section 88A that explicitly states that “both parties” in a civil marriage must agree for the conversion of a minor into Islam.
Varughese said that the amendments, if passed, will address the issue of unilateral conversion of minor children to Islam by a converted Muslim parent without the knowledge and consent of the non-converting parent.
Yesterday, Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi had expressed disappointment and sadness towards the delay.
She is currently facing an eight-year ordeal after her three children were unilaterally converted to Islam by her ex-husband.