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How ‘love jihad’ laws clash with The Special Marriage Act

Recently several states including Uttar Pradesh introduced anti-conversion laws making religious conversion for the sake of marriage illegal. These laws were based on the conspiracy theory of ‘love jihad’ which posits that Muslim men marry Hindu women only to convert them to Islam. We bring a three-part series on how these laws have affected the lives of young people.

In this episode, Menaka Rao spoke to a couple who had to run away from Uttar Pradesh after the introduction of its so-called ‘love jihad’ law- UP Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020. The two wanted to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which allows for a civil marriage without conversion. But the two were still scared for their lives in Uttar Pradesh. They sought the help of Dhanak, an organisation that helps such interfaith couples.

We spoke to Asif Iqbal from Dhanak to understand how these new laws affect interfaith couples who want to marry against the wishes of their parents. We also spoke to one couple from Rajasthan and another married couple from Uttar Pradesh.

Important links:

The Special Marriage Act, 1954
UP Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance, 2020
Shakti Vahini vs Union of India which ordered every district in the country to have a safe house for run-away couples, among other safeguards
Allahabad high court judgement that read down the Special Marriage Act, 1954

How ‘love jihad’ laws clash with The Special Marriage Act

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