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BCCLA opposes Quebec bill banning face veils

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Vancouver, B.C. – The BCCLA is opposing the Quebec government’s attempt to restrict the wearing of the niqab through Bill 94. Although equality rights include the right to access employment, education and health services without discrimination, the proposed law would deny women who wear a face veil access to services available to the general public.

Megan Vis-Dunbar, BCCLA Executive Board Member: “We believe the Bill is vague, overly broad and does not give sufficient weight to the constitutionally protested interests of religious freedom. Personal autonomy is rendered meaningless when the right to adhere to the belief of one’s choice is not respected. Restricting an individual’s ability to express his or her beliefs, whether or not we agree with those beliefs, is equivalent to judging that person incapable of deciding for their self.”

The duty to accommodate, incorporated in the Charter, requires accommodation except where it would cause undue hardship. Bill 94 attempts to effectively refuse accommodation to women who wear the niqab while accessing or providing public services.

Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director: “I am hard-pressed to think of a single circumstance in which security, communication or identification needs could legitimately require the banning of a face veil. Even where there are genuine requirements for identification, the removal of a face veil need only be very brief and accommodation can be arranged by providing female service providers for the small number of persons requiring such accommodation.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Megan Vis-Dunbar, 604-728-4852
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, 604-630-9753