Attention News Editors:

YWCA Toronto Supports Quebec Decision on Religious Arbitration

    TORONTO, May 27 /CNW/ - YWCA Toronto welcomes the decision of the Quebec
Legislature to reject the introduction of Sharia tribunals as a substitute for
Family Law Courts. In a move that reveals their law-makers are not blinded by
naivety about the rise of fundamentalism, Quebec has moved to settle the issue
for once and for all. However, we regret that the court failed to recognize
the threat to the rights of all women represented by all religious
arbitration, and instead focused its attention only on Muslim family law.
    YWCA Toronto believes that all religious tribunals pose a threat to the
universality of women's rights as guaranteed by The Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. Religious arbitration of all persuasions, once encoded in law,
blurs the separation of "church" and state - the cornerstone of a liberal
democracy. As the McGuinty government contemplates its response to the report
by Marion Boyd, YWCA urges them to consider the Quebec position carefully as
the basis for an alternative.
    YWCA Toronto believes that the Arbitration Act was never designed to
accommodate family matters. It was created for commercial disputes, and fails
to account for the community pressure and physical violence that women face in
a decision to "choose" religious arbitration. Boyd's proposed safeguards
against abuses are flimsy protection, and sidestep the central issue of the
meaning of choice in unequal circumstances.
For further information: call Amanda Dale, Director of Advocacy & 
Communications, (416) 961-8100 ext. 350 or cell (416) 453-1916