The Law Society has been accused of “promoting” Sharia law, after issuing guidance on wills that comply with the Islamic system.
The advice for solicitors in England and Wales covers Sharia-based wills, which discriminate against women.
Under Sharia, male heirs “in most cases receive double the amount inherited by a female heir of the same class”, the guidance says.
It adds that non-Muslims “may not inherit at all”, “only Muslim marriages are recognised” and adopted children should be ‘excluded’ from wills.
Campaigner Peter Tatchell said the Law Society “should withdraw its guidelines assisting or promoting Sharia Law in the UK”.
The Sunday Telegraph called the guidance a “worrying development”, as it said in an editorial: “Promoting sharia is part of the radicals’ anti-integration agenda.”
Baroness Cox, who is leading efforts to curb problems caused by Sharia courts in Britain, said the advice “would make the Suffragettes turn in their graves”.
A secular legal group also criticised the Law Society for ‘wading into theology’, and said the guidance “normalises, legitimises and sanitises” Sharia law.
The Law Society released the practice note for solicitors earlier this month, saying: “This is the first time guidance has been published for solicitors to assist them with the intricacies of Sharia succession rules”.
Its president defended the advice, saying it was wrong to see the guidance as “promoting” Sharia law.
However, Baroness Cox said, “to have an organisation such as The Law Society seeming to promote or encourage a policy which is inherently gender discriminatory in a way which will have very serious implications for women and possibly for children is a matter of deep concern”.
“Everyone has freedom to make their own will and everyone has freedom to let those wills reflect their religious beliefs”, she commented.
Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, called for MPs to consider the issue of Sharia law through the select committee system. “This should be dragged out into the open and be discussed”, he commented.
The Sunday Telegraph also noted: “Many reasonable people will feel that sharia, which unapologetically discriminates against women, is incompatible with British ideas of fairness and decency.”