CCLA has submitted a brief to the Quebec National Assembly’s Committee on Institutions as part of its special consultation and public hearings on Bill 62. Bill 62 — An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies — is a deeply troubling law that would infringe basic rights and cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.
At the core of Bill 62 is section 9, which prohibits public employees and recipients of public services from wearing face coverings, such as the niqab, unless they receive special accommodation via a flawed religious accommodation process. We have argued that the bill unfairly targets individuals who wear religious face coverings and thereby infringes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to be free from discrimination. We have also pointed out inconsistencies in the proposed law – such as its special protection for “the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history” – which exacerbate the bill’s purpose or effect of unfairly targeting individuals from minority religious, ethnic, and racial groups and, in particular, women from these groups.
CCLA is urging the Quebec government not to move forward with the bill.