Since 2002, there have been several attempts to introduce anti-conversion legislation in Sri Lanka. The last attempt, a bill proposed by the JHU was pending before Parliament for the Final Reading and Vote at the time Parliament was dissolved early this year. We have been aware of moves to re-introduce the same or similar legislation through the new Parliament.
Acts to protect Buddhism
Clauses included to prevent forced conversions:
Allowance for needy temples:
Five Acts are to be introduced to preserve Buddhism and the Maha Sangha for the future generation, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said. He said a preliminary proposal was presented to Cabinet during its last deliberations. According to the Prime Minister, the proposals include the creation of a Sangha Sabha comprising leading Buddhist monks to advise the Government on matters related to Buddhism.
The Acts would also include clauses to prevent forced religious conversions and methods to establish a dialogue within religious circles to discuss new trends in Buddhism and its applicability.
Prime Minister Jayaratne made these observations during a discussion with Atamasthanadipathi Ven. Pallegama Sirinivasa Thera in Anuradhapura. The Premier also noted that in addition to the five Acts, the Government was contemplating on introducing several other initiatives to meet rural temples needs.
One such effort is to provide an allowance to needy temples in rural areas to improve their infrastructure and supplement other necessities. Another move is to allow temples to lease land to the State which are owned by them under the Temporalities Ordinance and use the earnings to meet the maintenance costs of the temples.