Malaysia's new bill that says the consent of one parent is enough for the religious conversion of a child has drawn opposition from various groups of the country.
The amendments put forward in the Malaysian parliament of one parent consent for conversion goes against the 2009 government legislation which clearly stated both parents' approval is a must for the mentioned process.
However, the Malay-language text of the law has mentioned that the approval of "mother or father or guardian" is enough for the conversion of a minor, who is below 18, drawing criticisms from several quarters.
Inter-faith group, Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said in a statement, "Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong."
For the nation known for its diverse culture, ethnicity and religion, the issue of religious conversion is a very sensitive one since the state religion is Islam, which is about 60 per cent of the population.
Malaysian Bar Council voiced its concern that, "the unilateral conversion of minor children to any religion by a parent, without the consent of the non-converting parent, is contrary to our constitutional scheme."
Even though the proposal is yet to be passed, according to legal experts, there is a higher chance of it being approved since the proposal was a move from the government itself and thus holds more ground.
However, no government officials came out with any statements with respect to the new proposition.
If Malaysia manages to pass the new bill, it would be a major revamp for the decade-old existing laws and be a cause of concern for the inter-religious couples since a non-Muslim parent is not entitled to the custody of converted children as applicable under the Sharia laws of Islam.