Equal Burial Rights Muslim & Jewish Residents Southwark Council
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Muslim and Jewish residents are being discriminated against by Southwark Council. Their burial provision is breaking the Human Rights Act 1998 and its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.
Southwark Council’s policy states: “We aim to ensure that people who have died in Southwark can be buried or cremated within the borough.” . However this is not being implemented and Muslim and Jewish residents are having to bury their loved ones outside of the borough, whilst the council spends millions on regenerating for others.
- Orthodox Muslim and Jewish residents are paying taxes to subsidise burials for other faiths, while having to pay privately for their own burials outside the borough.
- Residents of ALL faith groups need dedicated burial areas, specific to their religious practices and beliefs equal to that of other residents.
- No Burial provisions for Jewish Residents.
- Small area allocated for Muslims but the majority of muslims do not wish to have graves where:
- Dogs roaming freely
- Graves are in all directions (not in-line with Mecca)
- No ablution (washing facilities)
- Islamic burial rules are not implemented/respected
Why are Southwark Council not providing fair and equal burials for all?
Why are Southwark Council exposing its residents to religious discrimination when fair options for burial for all faiths should be available?
Around three-quarters of Southwark residents choose to be cremated and the remaining quarter choose to have burials, Of these, almost half are Muslim or Jewish residents. Therefore, although Muslim or Jewish residents are currently only around 10% of Southwark’s total population, they represent as much as 40% or more of those residents requiring burial. The Census 2011 showed that 8.5% of Southwark residents were Muslim, 0.3% Jewish.
At present the council is failing to provide appropriate burial services for Orthodox Muslim and Jewish residents at any of the three Southwark-owned cemeteries.
They do provide one small area for Muslim burials but the area is not in-line with orthodox Islamic burial rights/practices. An example of this is that dogs are able to roam around the graves, which is not at all in accordance with Islamic rulings regarding grave sites.
Southwark does not currently provide for the religious burial needs and practices of these two sections of their community, and the council’s multimillion pound burial proposals will not provide for them either. It is estimated that nearly half the Southwark residents who require burial cannot use Southwark's cemeteries.
Southwark Council presently wants to give over £5.2M to private contractors to create around 840 new burial plots, a giant subsidy of over £6,000 per grave - graves that Orthodox Muslims and Jews cannot use.
The council could invest its £5.2M budget in decades of multi-faith burial provisions in cemeteries out of the borough so that all Southwark residents are catered for equally. At present those Muslim and Jewish residents who wish to be buried in accordance with their beliefs are forced to go elsewhere.
SOUTHWARK COUNCIL’S BURIAL PROVISION PROMOTES RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION
-Failure to meet Southwark Council’s Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010
-Failure to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998
-Developing a discriminatory burial strategy that would, if implemented through proposed planning applications, reinforce and extend existing religious discrimination
-Failure by Southwark Council to engage with faith groups in the borough and to make sure their specific religious burial rights are provided for.
Burial is a requirement of Orthodox Muslim and Jewish religions, and the Equality Act 2010 protects all people’s rights to practice their religion, without disadvantage.
Southwark has created a burial strategy and planning proposals which discriminate against Orthodox Jewish and Muslim residents, and possibly other faiths.
Southwark’s 5 year old Burial Strategy Equality Impact Assessment states explicitly: “The shortage of burial space has meant that cemetery space allocated for Muslim burials has been exhausted. This means that residents observing Islamic funeral rites and requiring graves prepared in adherence to Islamic law, must seek internment [sic] outside of the borough.”
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