BHUBANESWAR: The BJP on Wednesday rejected the idea of a ban on religious conversion and said any move against conversions must not become a campaign against any community.

Asked by reporters whether conversion should be banned in the country as demanded by various outfits, Mr. Advani said, “No. In a country like India, it should not be legally prohibited though some countries like Indonesia have banned conversion. Even laws in some countries provide for the death penalty for conversion.”

Many leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, were opposed to religious conversion but when it came to banning it legally, the matter was discussed at various fora, including the Constituent Assembly, he said.

In India, there is no legal prohibition of conversion though in some States past Congress governments had enacted laws to prevent conversions through coercion, inducement, and allurement, Mr. Advani said. Conversions done voluntarily as per procedures of these laws were recorded in these States.

Mr. Advani, however, strongly advocated a free debate to build a firm national consensus against proselytisation through coercion, inducement, or by vilifying any faith. “Time has come for a free and frank democratic debate and inter-faith dialogue on the issue of religious conversion with a view to building a firm national consensus against proselytisation using methods of coercion or inducements or by vilifying any faith,” he said. Mr. Advani, however, made it clear that any campaign against conversions cannot and must not become a campaign against any community. — PTI