Peers clashed today over the role of Sharia law tribunals as they backed measures aimed at toughening rules on sex discrimination and domestic violence.
Independent crossbencher Baroness Cox warned about the “suffering of women oppressed by religiously sanctioned gender discrimination in this country”. And she hit out at a “rapidly developing quasi-legal system, which undermines the fundamental principle of one law for all”.
Lady Cox said her move to tackle this in the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill was backed by many Muslims and could apply to discrimination by other faiths. She denied being “anti-Muslim” insisting she wanted Muslim women to enjoy their full legal rights under British law.
But the first female Muslim peer, Baroness Uddin, said the bid to change the law would be seen, outside the House, as “another assault on Muslims”. Lady Uddin said the way forward was for the Government to look at the issue in partnership with the affected communities and womens’ groups.
Update: See “Sharia courts ‘as consensual as rape’, House of Lords told”, Daily Telegraph, 20 October 2012