Malaysian Federal Court rules that consent of both parents required for children’s religious conversion

Malaysia’s highest court has held that the consent of both parents is needed to change a child’s religion, voiding the unilateral conversion of Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi’s children by her Muslim ex-husband. Article 12(4) of the Constitution states that the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian. The Federal Court ruling has drawn a line under a searing debate over whether Muslim parents can convert a child without the consent of their non-Muslim spouse, as the judges decided that the word “parent” in the Constitution cannot be read literally and referred to both parents where applicable, as “both parents have equal rights.”

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