Family law for Christians: Still unresolved by Churches

18-11-2018 09:30 AM

Youssef Sidhom

Youssef Sidhom

Problems on hold

Under the title “Question to Church, Government, Parliament: How about the Family Law for Christians?” I wrote on 21 October 2018 stressing the necessity, even imperativeness, of the passage of that law.  I explained that passing the Family Law for Christians would rectify a legislative deficiency and would fulfil a constitutional requirement that gave Egyptian Christians the right to apply their own doctrines to matters that concern the family, legally known as ‘personal status’ matters. The House of Representatives was embarking on its fourth legislative round, and it had been declared that the general Personal Status Law for Egyptians was on its legislative agenda.I concluded my editorial wondering: “Where exactly is the draft Family Law for Christians now? Is it still with the Church? If so, why? If it is with the Cabinet, why wasn’t it referred to parliament? If it is with parliament, why doesn’t it find its way to the floor in order to see light?”

I went on a lookout for the answer. It made sense to begin with the Church, even though I was almost sure the Church had finished drafting the law to comply with Christian teachings ages ago. Those in charge of that task had repeatedly talked of numerous sessions between the Coptic Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches and had long since declared that the Churches had almost reached a common understanding regarding the draft law. I was thus sure that the draft law had left the Church and reached the government to forward it to parliament.

I was amazed to learn, however, from a Church source involved in drafting the Family Law for Christians that the draft law was still with the Church, and was not sent to the government. The Catholic Church, he said, was still studying and reviewing it, meaning that the three Churches had to convene one more time for a final settlement. To say the truth, I could not understand the reasons behind this long delay which extended over more than four years since the 2014 Constitution granted Christians the right to their own family law. I fail to comprehend the reason why it should take the three Churches that long to draft and produce a viable bill. The Church is the main beneficiary of such legislation, and stands most to lose by delaying its passage. Can we still hope for the Church to overcome this delay and swiftly send the draft law to the government so it could be accommodated within this parliamentary round’s agenda? I sincerely hope so and, while we’re at it, I hope the draft law would stipulate provisions for equal inheritance for men and women, an issue I had repeatedly discussed and ardently called for.

Watani International

18 November 2018

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