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Law of marriage

RELIGION | Indian state enforces uniform matrimonial practices

Altaf Qadri / AP

Law of marriage
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AN INDIAN STATE has approved a new marriage and family code opponents say ­favors Hinduism over other religions. The law, passed in Uttarakhand on Feb. 7, sets a minimum age for marriage (21 for men, 18 for women), bans polygamy, and institutes uniform divorce and inheritance procedures for people of all faiths. It also controversially requires cohabiting couples to ­register with the government—or face up to six months in prison and a fine of 25,000 rupees ($305).

India’s Muslim minority opposes the law, saying it violates their customs, which can include polygamy and under-18 marriage. Muslims may also observe strict rules for divorce or remarriage. “This bill forces me to follow a different religion and culture. In our religion, inheritance and marriage are part of religious practice,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen.

Currently, religious groups in Hindu-majority India follow their own marriage and inheritance customs. Uttarakhand is majority-ruled by the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata, which pushed for the uniform code. The state governor and Indian president are expected to give it final approval for implementation soon.

Case dismissed

The U.K.’s General Medical Council has absolved a career neurologist and ordained Catholic priest of wrongdoing after closing an investigation related to his “pro-life” medical opinion in a court trial.

In December 2020, relatives of a Polish man with brain damage asked Patrick Pullicino, who works as a consultant neurologist, to give his opinion in the man’s end-of-life case. Pullicino argued further tests were needed to determine the man’s prognosis, but the Court of Protection disagreed and withheld nutrition and fluids until the man died in January 2021.

Celia Kitzinger, a professor and LGBTQ activist who had followed the case, then filed a complaint against Pullicino, accusing him of religious bias and suggesting he “deliberately misdiagnosed the patient in the hope of saving his life.” But after a three-year probe that put Pullicino’s practice on hold, the GMC found no evidence of wrongdoing. —E.R.

Erin Grall

Erin Grall Phil Sears/AP

Chaplains in the classroom

The Florida Senate is debating a measure that would allow chaplains to volunteer in public schools. Under SB 1044, approved by a Senate committee on Feb. 6, chaplains of any religious faith could serve in schools as long as they pass a background check. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Erin Grall, said chaplains could fill a need for mental health counseling, but opponents raised concerns about separation of church and state. —E.R.

Elizabeth Russell

Elizabeth is a staff writer at WORLD. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.


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