Published: Sat, October 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

British court rules Islamic faith school's segregation "unlawful"

British court rules Islamic faith school's segregation

An Islamic school's policy of segregating boys and girls in classrooms has been ruled unlawful by a court panel in the United Kingdom on Friday.

Three appeal judges ruled the Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham in central England was discriminating against pupils contrary to the Equality Act, overturning a High Court ruling past year, but added that girl students were not more disadvantaged than boys.

The inspectors had previous reported that the segregation of the pupils left them "unprepared for life in modern Britain".

Books in the library advocated husbands beating their wives and forced sex, the report said.

The school attempted to suppress the report's findings with funding from Birmingham city council.

The appeal judges noted that: "The school is not the only Islamic school which operates such a policy and that a number of Jewish schools with a particular Orthodox ethos and some Christian faith schools have similar practices".

Friday's ruling will affect around 20 other state-funded schools in England where boys and girls are given completely segregated education.

"Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favorably due to their sex, or for any other reason", she said. "It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain", she said, reports PTI.After an inspection a year ago, Ofsted had ruled that Al- Hijrah was "inadequate" and it was put in "special measures", saying its policy of separating the sexes was discrimination under the 2010 Equality Act.

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"This is discrimination and is wrong".

Birmingham City Council said it took legal action as they believed the Al-Hijrah school was held to a different standard to other schools with similar policies, that had not been downgraded by Ofsted.

"It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain", Spielman said in a statement.

As a result, it was found to be contrary to the 2010 Equality Act.

The ruling only affects mixed schools and has no impact on separate boys' and girls' schools.

Government lawyers had said there were a "number of schools" that would have to stop segregating, or split into single sex schools if Ofsted won the case.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: 'Regardless of their gender, every child has the right to an effective education - and one which lets them be themselves and mix with whoever they choose.

"We assume that a non-discriminatory approach by Ofsted will mean that many schools across the country from other faiths will soon also be affected by this apparently new standard".

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