The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed by the passing of Bill 62 in Quebec’s National Assembly on Wednesday. The law forces Muslim women who wear the niqab to uncover their faces to deliver or use public services. The ban applies to public services such as doctors, transit services and schools.
Bill 62 is the third attempt to ban the wearing of the niqab while receiving public services in Quebec. It was proceeded by Bill 94 in 2010 and the Quebec Charter of Values in 2013, both of which failed to pass. The WSO has repeatedly called for a fair and principled discussion on the issue of religious accommodation in Quebec and has opposed blanket bans on any religious attire or articles of faith.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “we are disappointed by the passing of Quebec’s so-called religious neutrality bill. While the Sikh faith forbids the practice of veiling, we believe Muslim women have a right to wear the niqab. Canadian law is clear that individual religious practices, as long as they are not harmful to others, must be accommodated to the point of undue hardship. Simply feeling uncomfortable about or not agreeing with a religious practice is not reason enough to restrict it. The wearing of the niqab should be treated no differently than any other religious observance. Where accommodation is requested, unless an undue hardship can be established, the niqab must be accommodated. We expect that the passing of Bill 62 will be successfully challenged in courts and overturned.”