Rights group condemns Myanmar bill on interfaith marriage
YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s parliament is ‘‘playing with fire’’ by passing a bill regulating the right of women from the country’s Buddhist majority to marry men from outside their religion, an international human rights group said Wednesday.
Phil Robertson, with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, linked the bill to a campaign by extremist Buddhist groups that have incited anti-Muslim hatred. Religious tensions have led to deadly violence since 2012, especially against Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar, many of whom have fled abroad, leading to a regional refugee crisis.
The Buddhist Women’s Special Marriage Bill passed Tuesday is one of four known as the Protection of Race and Religion Laws, which have been criticized as discriminatory by rights groups. It mandates that Buddhist women register their intent to marry outside their faith, and allows them to be stopped if there are objections.
President Thein Sein has 14 days from when the bill was passed to sign it or return it with suggested changes.
‘‘It’s shocking that . . . parliament has passed yet another incredibly dangerous law, this time legislating clearly discriminatory provisions targeting the rights of religious minority men and Buddhist women to marry who they wish without interference,’’ said Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.