'Reasonable accommodation' bill polarizes opinion
Quebec's immigration minister is facing some stiff opposition to her so-called 'niqab bill', that outlines new reasonable accommodation rules for public services.
Quebec immigration minister Katherine Weil said a reasonable accommodation law is needed to legislate the open and secular delivery of public services.
It also mandates the integration of immigrants in Quebec society, she said this week, as a provincial committee studied the bill.
The legislation has the support of the Quebec Women's Federation, because "we're very critical of most religious practices and beliefs, they tend to be patriarchal," said president Alexa Conradi.
But other observers have been vocal opposing the law, saying it threatens people's rights to religious freedom.
"It's now going to legislate conformity, and that means society is going to be lay," said human rights lawyer Frank Schlesinger.
"If a Sikh wants to be appointment a judge, does that mean that because he wears his turban, in order to go on the bench, he has to take off his turban? It doesn't make sense."
Promoting a secular society is fine "when the government is not favouring one religion over another," said Schlesinger, who works for the Lord Reading Law Society. "But it's not fine when everybody has to be the same as everybody else," he said.
Civil rights groups fear such laws will institutionalize prejudice against minority groups, and isn't necessary, because religious communities have a long history of fitting into Quebec Society, he added.