A Quebec judge has ruled the ban on people from covering their faces is a potential violation of Charter rights, insisting that the law will cause irreparable harm to Muslim women.
Bill 62 was written to ensure Quebec’s religious neutrality, though some are concerned that the law is anything but neutral.
It forbids anyone with their face covered to receive public services. At a hospital, patients can sit in a waiting room with their faces covered, but they can’t interact with staff. Students at universities and grade schools must have the faces uncovered to facilitate learning. Islamic women with their faces covered can drop their kids off to daycare, but they can’t pick them up. They can walk into a library but they can’t take out a book. This has raised concerns for civil liberty groups and Muslim advocacy institutions. They charge that the bill is discriminatory. The lawsuit was successful in suspending the bill’s effect last December, but the suspension was set to expire on July 1st.
Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard extended the injunction until a ruling is issued in the upcoming legal case, however, a date for the case has not yet been set. He argued that on a first glance, this is a Charter violation.
Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion.
Also, section 15 of the Canadian Charter states that:
“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
Canadians have the freedom to express their religion, in the absence of harming others and has the right to be the beneficiaries of the law without discrimination against their religion. Civil liberties are the issue of this pending and the precedent this sets with have lasting implications.
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