April 15 2019

Quebec Attempting to Ban Religious Clothing, Christian Jewelry for Public Workers

A proposal to ban many public employees from wearing religious clothing is creating a fiery debate in the Canadian province…

A proposal to ban many public employees from wearing religious clothing is creating a fiery debate in the Canadian province of Quebec, where people are fighting to freely practice their religion — or to be free of it.

The measure introduced late last month would prohibit civil servants, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, lawyers and other people who interact with the public from wearing symbols of religion while at work.

It would apply to Sikh turbans, Christian jewelry and Jewish yarmulkes.

“The proposed legislation will affect Muslims more than other groups as they are the fastest growing religious group,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. Muslims represent about 3% of Quebec’s 8.3 million people.

Thousands of demonstrators attended a recent march in Montreal to protest the measure.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim and even secular groups across the province have denounced the measure, as have school boards, political parties and some municipal leaders.

However, on Friday Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said that while she personally opposes the bill, Montreal would not disobey it if it is passed.

“What’s unique to Quebec is that these two concepts of secularism are facing off in the public sphere, among politicians, academics, lawyers and even judges,” Lavoie told The Associated Press.

Bill 21 is Quebec’s fourth legislative attempt since 2011 to regulate the wearing of religious symbols for people working in the public sphere, and for the first time it invokes a constitutional clause allowing local governments to override some constitutional rights.

Lavoie said that’s a clear sign backers know the measure is discriminatory. (Read More)