12 October 2018

Macfarlane: Quebec law banning niqab and burka is neither neutral nor constitutional


The Quebec National Assembly has passed Bill 62, legislation introduced by the Liberal government that bans public workers and anyone receiving public services from wearing the niqab or any other face covering.

Although it is described as imposing a duty of religious neutrality on public servants and people using government services, the new law is neither neutral nor constitutional. It is impossible to reconcile this law as anything other than the targeting of a minority group, a slightly narrower spin on the now perennial Quebec debate over the wearing of (non-Catholic) religious identifiers.  

Much like past proposals by the former Parti Québécois government under Pauline Marois, the law here is defended on the grounds of Quebec secularism, but it is a perversion of secularism, which would normally see the state refuse to adopt or sanction particular religions over others. Instead, the version of secularism to which Quebec's political class seems to adhere is simply anti-religion, and more specifically, religions not reflected by the giant cross hanging in the National Assembly ...


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