Groups defending the rights of minorities and women have come together to denounce Quebec’s new legislation restricting the wearing of religious symbols.
Seven groups including Amnesty International and the province’s main women’s federation attacked the secularism bill as discriminatory at a news conference today.
France-Isabelle Langlois, Amnesty International’s director for French-speaking Canada said the Coalition Avenir Quebec bill contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
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The legislation tabled Thursday would prohibit public servants in positions of authority –including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards– from wearing religious symbols.
People currently in those jobs would be protected by a grandfather clause.
Idil Issa, vice-president of the Fondation Parole de femmes, which represents women from visible minorities, said Muslim women wearing the hijab will bear the brunt of the law’s impact.
She said she fears they will be stigmatized and subjected to violence in everyday life.
The groups are asking that the bill be withdrawn, but they acknowledge the battle will be difficult because the government has invoked the notwithstanding clause to block possible court challenges.