Muslims say 'no' to 3 key social bills

Muslims say 'no' to 3 key social bills

The League of Islamic Council of Southern Thailand has issued a statement opposing three draft bills -- the Cannabis and Hemp Bill, Progressive Liquor Bill and Civil Partnership Bill -- as going against Islamic law, saying practising Muslims cannot abide by them.

Representatives of the Islamic councils in the southern border provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Songkhla, Satun and Pattani met on Thursday to clarify their position on the three bills that have already passed their first readings in parliament.

During the first reading, the Prachachat Party -- which counts most of its members as Muslims living in the deep South -- opposed all three bills as well as the Marriage Equality Bill, several of which were sponsored by the Move Forward Party (MFP).

Sugarno Matha, the Prachachat Party's MP for Yala, said it has already informed other political parties that practising Muslims should not have to follow any laws contrary to their religious or other beliefs.

The Cannabis and Hemp Bill delisted the two plants as narcotic drugs, except for cannabis extracts with more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis' psychoactive ingredient.

Meanwhile, the draft of the Progressive Liquor Bill aims to liberalise the liquor industry and allow small-scale producers to enter the market. The Civil Partnership Bill will, if enacted, makes same-sex marriage legal.

According to the Quran, same-sex marriage, narcotics and alcoholic drinks go against Islam and its patriarchal values. As such, exceptions must be made for practising Muslims if the bills are passed, Mr Sugarno said.

The issue has sparked much debate on social media leading to confusion among Muslims, which is why the councils hoped to clear the matter up, said Waedueramae Mamingji, chairman of the Islamic Council of Pattani.

The League of Islamic Council of Southern Thailand does not support any of the draft laws, he said.

Dr Ananchai Thaipratan, an Islamic medical professional at the meeting, said the UN still lists cannabis as a narcotic allowed only for medicinal use or research purposes.

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