Human rights activist: ‘Sharia Bill is vital legislation’

A leading human rights activist has welcomed Baroness Caroline Cox’s Bill to restrain the operation of sharia councils.

Writing for the Conservative Home website, Benedict Rogers described the proposal as a “vital piece of legislation” which deserves the Government’s support.

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, which covers England and Wales, passed its Third Reading in the House of Lords last month.


Speaking about her Bill, Baroness Cox said it “seeks to tackle gender discrimination in arbitration proceedings, informal mediations or pseudo-courts.

“It ensures that Muslim women have genuine access to knowledge concerning their rights.”

Rogers compared the proposals to William Wilberforce’s historic campaign for the abolition of the slave trade saying it “seeks to end the slavery of thousands of women in Britain today”.


He also noted that the Bill has already received “widespread support from a diverse range of people and organisations”.

This includes the Muslim Women’s Advisory Council, the National Secular Society and Passion for Freedom, as well as cross-party support from Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat Peers and MPs.

He concluded: “As it makes its passage through Commons, with many Members of Parliament from all parties already pledged to support it, it deserves two things: appropriate time on the order paper, and the Government’s support.

The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill’s had its First Reading in the House of Commons on Thursday 11 February and is now sponsored by Fiona Bruce MP. Second Reading is scheduled for 11 March.