A mosque in Lewisham has thanked MPs after an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill was agreed that would protect faith groups from forced cremations.  

The emergency Coronavirus Bill, as it stood before the amendment on Monday (March 23), would allow local authorities to disregard section 46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which prevents them from cremating a body against the wishes of the dead or their families.   

But cremation is “strictly forbidden” in Islam and Judaism, prompting Lewisham Islamic Centre to write to Lewisham and Deptford MP Vicky Foxcroft expressing “fear and anguish” over the possible changes to the law.   

They asked her to back an amendment to the Bill which would “reflect the continued right for all communities to be able to bury their dead according to their wishes and with dignity”.    

The amendment, tabled by the shadow minister for women and equalities Bradford West MP Naz Shah, was formally withdrawn because the Government agreed to put forward its own amendment to respect the wishes of faith communities.   

The Bill has now passed all stages at the House of Commons and will next go to the House of Lords.   

Lewisham Islamic Centre thanked Vicky Foxcroft and Lewisham East MP Janet Daby for supporting the amendment.  

“A big thank you from us and the Muslim community for supporting the changes to the Bill regarding burials, we really appreciate it. Keep safe,” they said.   

A Government spokesperson said it had “worked closely with faith groups, MPs and local authorities to reassure them that we are fully committed to respecting religious practices”.   

“We recognise the huge importance of this and will do everything we can to maintain the right for a person or their loved one to have their preferences respected and the wishes of the bereaved upheld.  

“These emergency measures are only intended to be an absolute last resort,” she said.