Listen navigate down. News Programs navigate down. Podcasts navigate down. Features navigate down.
Categories navigate down. In debates involving the Jewish faith, it is the kippa, or yarmulke, a small skullcap worn as a symbol of submission to God by some Jewish males, that is often at issue. In addition, some Orthodox Jews build succahs, structures made of wood and covered with cedar branches, to be used each year for nine days during the autumn festival of Sukkot to commemorate the difficult conditions Jews faced after fleeing Egypt.
An aspect of the more traditionally Western Christian faith, the crucifix is a representation of the Christian cross with a figure of Christ on it. Often hung on the wall, crucifixes may be found in churches, classrooms, courtrooms, and legislative buildings throughout the Western world. Crucifixes may also be worn as a pendant on a necklace.
The recent rise of immigrants in Europe has meant that headcoverings have become significant symbols of difference, provoking debate about their role in the public sphere. Freedom of religion is firmly entrenched in international law and the constitutions of countries around the world. Sections 18 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICCPR guarantee everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the freedom to manifest his or her religion or belief in practice and observance.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has emphasized that this freedom encompasses the right to wear religiously distinctive clothing or headcoverings, although article 18 3 of the ICCPR does allow limitations to this freedom provided that they are prescribed by law and necessary to protect safety, public order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. However, while international law in this area paints freedom of religion with broad brushstrokes, individual countries must apply this philosophy based on individual circumstances and interpret freedom of religion within domestic constitutional laws.
Application of the law often depends on context and political culture. Under the European Convention, article 9 1 protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion, while subsection 2 permits restrictions on the manifestation of belief when dealing with concerns about public safety or public order, etc.
The margin of appreciation means that the ECHR plays a subsidiary role, as, in principle, national authorities are better placed than a supranational court to evaluate local needs and conditions; although these decisions are ultimately subject to review for conformity with the requirements of the European Convention. Freedom of religion in Canada is informed, to a certain extent, by the fact that no policy exists to officially separate church and state.
In general, the Canadian approach to religion has been to promote multiculturalism by celebrating the expression of various religions while recognizing the supremacy of none — the government plays a role of neutral accommodation. The goal is not one of assimilation, but of integration based on differences. Sections 2 a and 15 of the Charter lay out the right to freedom of religion and equal treatment in Canada.
Big M Drug Mart Ltd. Freedom of religion in Canada has also been interpreted as necessitating the reasonable accommodation of minorities. This means that laws must be adjusted if they have even an indirect discriminatory effect on a person or group based on their particular characteristics. Rather, courts have the power to balance certain countervailing claims. Clearly offensive conduct or symbols that harm or constrain the freedoms or human dignity of others are not tolerated. These limitations are emphasized within the Charter itself.
Section 15 highlights the fact that each religion is one of many vying for equality. Section 27 suggests that religion falls under the rubric of culture, and that the Charter seeks to preserve and protect all cultures.
Quebec Bans Public-Sector Employees From Wearing Religious Garb
Finally, section 1 gives courts the discretion to qualify the fundamental freedom of religion by such reasonable limits as are prescribed by law and can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Public schools are the only place in which it has been clearly determined by the courts and through legislation that religion cannot be present in any institutionalized sense. In addition to the courts, Canada allows provincial and federal human rights commissions to deal with many issues of discrimination on religious grounds, including the presence of religious symbols in the public sphere.
Canada has dealt with the religious symbols question in a wide variety of contexts, the trend being for courts to allow religious headcoverings in most situations unless there is a serious safety or public order issue at stake. Most of the prominent Canadian headcovering cases have focussed on Sikh turbans. In , the Ontario Human Rights Commission applied the Ontario Human Rights Code 14 to find a prohibition on Sikh turbans in a public school to be religious discrimination. However, once issues of safety and public order are thrown into the headcovering equation, the answer is no longer as clear in Canadian law.
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has upheld the right of a turbaned Sikh to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, finding that the discrimination involved in mandating the helmet despite the religious obligation to wear a turban is not justified by the marginal increase in risk to the person or increase in medical costs. The unhelmeted rider alone bears the risk. Similarly, in Bhinder v. Canadian National Railway Co. Because the safety concerns at play in this case did make the hard hat a bona fide occupational requirement and CN had demonstrated no intention to discriminate, the policy was upheld.
Unlike other Canadian provinces, which have primarily focused on Sikh symbols and headcoverings, Quebec has dealt with the treatment of religious symbols in the public sphere in a variety of religious contexts. Quebec first broached the issue of Islamic headscarves in the school system when a Muslim girl was expelled from her school for wearing one in In a non-binding report published in , the Commission concluded that public schools were obliged to accept headscarves, provided that this freedom of religious expression did not constitute a real risk to personal safety or security of property.
The Commission stated that prohibiting the headscarf was contrary to the Quebec Charter as a violation of both freedom of religion and the right to education. While schools may insist on certain dress codes, they must also seek reasonable accommodations with Muslim students who are discriminated against by the application of such codes. Dealing with the feminist equality argument that a headscarf ban is necessary to protect girls from an overly oppressive religious regime, the Commission was careful to state that unless it is shown that a specific girl is forced to wear the headscarf against her will, an absolute ban on the headscarf as a religious symbol is not the role of equality laws, and would be an insult to the independence of Muslim women.
Rather, the Commission stated that social institutions play a key role in social integration and must not marginalize individuals by excluding them from public education. In March , following a series of incidents involving the expulsion of women wearing facial veils from government-sponsored French language classes, the Quebec government introduced a bill confirming government practice with respect to veils.
The bill emphasizes the religious neutrality of the state and prohibits government employees and those accessing government services from wearing veils where issues of security, identification or communication are involved. Such government services include public schools and child care. In addition, in , the Quebec Elections Act 26 was amended to ensure that voters in Quebec elections show their faces to elections officials i.
By contrast, no such broad-based legislation is contemplated at the federal level, and the Chief Electoral Officer has confirmed that federal legislation does not require voters to reveal their faces — although, in practice, women have sometimes been requested to unveil in private. In the matter of the oath of citizenship, the federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced in December that all individuals swearing the oath must show their faces. When examining the question of kirpans in the public sphere, safety and security are of particular importance.
Many court decisions have allowed kirpans in a variety of contexts provided that safety is not an issue of overriding importance and the blade is properly contained.
KINSELLA: Federal leaders silent as Quebec bans wearing religious symbols at work | Toronto Sun
Kirpans have been specifically allowed in schools by the Supreme Court of Canada. In Multani v. The court noted that there was no evidence of violent incidents related to kirpans in schools across Canada, and other objects such as scissors and baseball bats could be much more easily obtained by any student with violent intentions. Despite some evidence of resistance among the Quebec public, 32 this case nonetheless seemed to reflect the reality of compromise with respect to kirpans that already existed in school boards across Canada.
Courts in British Columbia and Ontario had already specifically upheld similar policies. British Columbia Council of Human Rights 34 under then section 3 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code 35 prohibiting discrimination in the provision of accommodation and services.
As a matter of policy, Sikh members of Parliament are entitled to wear the kirpan to the Canadian House of Commons, and visitors may wear the kirpan in the public gallery. However, in this respect, Quebec legislators have, in the past, adopted a different approach to their federal counterparts. Nevertheless, where safety is of real concern, it is clear that kirpans are prohibited despite provincial or federal laws protecting freedom of religion.
Sorry we could not verify that email address. Enter your email below and we'll send you another email. Local Traffic Video News Tips. Account Sign Out.