Quebec’s religious neutrality bill passes with a vote of 66-51
Quebec politicians have passed the provincial government’s controversial religious neutrality bill with a vote of 66-51.
It was tabled by Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée in 2015 and applies primarily to public services.
“In every legislation, there is a risk of it being contested by people who don’t agree with it,” she said.
“It’s a bill that’s respectful of civil rights.”
It would require citizens giving and receiving services to do so with their faces uncovered — something opponents argue directly discriminates against Muslim women.
Some estimate there are about 50 women who cover their faces with a niqab or burqa in the province.
They will no longer be able to take a city bus or go to a public school or CEGEP.
Anyone affected can apply for court-ordered religious accommodation, but it is not yet sure what the criteria will be.
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The bill was initially intended for provincial employees, but was extended to include municipal and public transit workers this year.
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Opposition parties voted against the hotly debated Bill 62, saying it doesn’t go far enough and should extend to authority figures like judges and police officers.
Advocacy groups say they will challenge the law in court.
Quebec is the first jurisdiction in North America to ban religious face coverings for public services.
— with files from The Canadian Press.
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