The Canadian province of Quebec’s government voted to ban public employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. Bill 21 passed 73 to 35 and offers guidance on religious symbols worn by public employees. The passing of the bill was met with outcry from the activist community and the general public who expressed fears over minorities being excluded from positions of authority over their religious practices.
The bill effectively bans Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews from wearing religious head covers and Christians from wearing crosses. Supporters hope that passing such a bill will maintain Quebec’s liberal stances on social issues such as support for the LGBTQ community. Some argue that allowing devout religious symbolism to be worn by officials in public positions creates bias and possibly unfair treatment towards those with conflicting beliefs.
Others argue that banning religious headscarves largely targets Muslim women and effectively “others” who wear religious head coverings, including immigrants. While those already in public positions will be protected from the bill, they’re unable to advance or take on a different position within the state if they don’t adhere to the bill.
Some within Quebec’s immigrant community have expressed interest in the bill, arguing that allowing religious symbolism in government is akin to the Islamic republics from where they emigrated. They’ve also expressed concern over liberal communities being subjected to religious bias based upon certain beliefs that clash with Canadian society as a whole.