Religious Liberty for Whom? The Buddhist Politics of Religious Freedom During Myanmar’s Transition to Democracy
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNordic Journal of Human Rights. 2017, 35 (1), 55-73. 10.1080/18918131.2017.1288950
Myanmar's democratisation entailed political liberalisation and legal reform, but contrary to liberal expectations, also further restrictions on the right to religious freedom. This article examines four laws that were passed by the President and the Parliament in 2015 in order ‘to protect race and religion’. The laws seek to regulate marriages between Buddhist women and non-Buddhist men, to prevent forced conversions, to abolish polygamy and extra-marital affairs, and to promote birth control and family planning in certain regions of the country. The laws were passed in great part due to mobilisation of certain sections of the Buddhist monastic order. This article investigates the rationale behind the laws and how Buddhist activists succeeded in their legal agenda.