Religious freedom advocacy Christian Solidarity Worldwide has joined with human rights activists in Nepal calling for the amendment of proposed legislation which they say criminalises religious conversion and the "hurting of religious sentiment".

The Nepali Parliament passed a Bill on 8th August which the UK based organisation says, under clause 160, would restrict religious conversion. They say it is similar to laws passed in Myanmar and six Indian states which have been "misused to foster social intolerance and violence towards peaceful religious activities, and to falsely accuse religious minorities - especially Muslims and Christians - of forcefully converting others".

CSW add that under clause 158, the "hurting of religious sentiment" will be criminalised in a law they say is similar to blasphemy laws in Pakistan. "These laws are poorly defined and widely misused to settle personal scores, to target religious minorities or to further extremist agendas," CSW said in a statement. "Decades of misuse of the blasphemy laws have resulted in a situation where even voicing disagreement with these laws can lead to violence."

The Bill is expected to become law once the President's approval has been given.

CSW spokesperson Kiri Kandhwende said CSW are "deeply concerned" that if the Bill becomes law, there will be more cases like the so-called 'Charikot case' which, in June, 2016, saw eight Nepali Christians charged with attempting to convert children after sharing a comic book on the story of Jesus.

She added that the "lesson from India is that anti-conversion laws not only restrict the rights of an individual to adopt a religion of their choice, but also put religious minority communities at risk of hostility and violence".

 “CSW stands with human rights defenders in Nepal in calling for these clauses to be removed from the Bill as they are incompatible with Nepal’s commitment to uphold the rights of freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression, as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”