Warning over bill to control religious courts
MPS ARE to debate a private members’ bill to regulate religious tribunals which the Board of Deputies warns could hit Batei Din.
Cross-bencher Baroness Cox wants to force religious courts which arbitrate disputes to comply with equality law.
Her proposed legislation was given a third reading in the House of Lords this week, and will now go to the Commons.
It is intended mainly to control sharia courts, but the Board has warned that it couldhave“unintendedconsequences” on rabbinical courts.
If it became law, the London Beth Din fears that “any Orthodox Jewish couple who sought guidance from a Beth Din as to their rights and obligations on the break-up of a marriage — with regard to property or child issues — would have to be turned away,” according to a briefing sent to peers by the Board.
The proposed law “prevents faith minorities… from approaching their faith tribunals for adjudication in a matter which they believe to be covered by the rules of their faith,” it said.
Beth Din hearings commonly take place as recognised arbitration proceedings under English law.
But if passed, the new law could prevent them acting according to Jewish law in certain cases, Federation Beth Din head Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein said.
Baroness Cox said that the bill’s passage through the Lords marked “an important milestone for victims of religiously-sanctioned gender abuse”.
The bill would ensure that “Muslim women have genuine access to knowledge concerning their rights,” she said.