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An Act Against Face Coverings: A Violation of Religious Freedom

This document is an Application for Judicial Review (Declaration of Invalidity) and Application for an Interim Stay of an Act that violates Canadians’ religious freedoms. Freedom of religion in Québec and Canada entails the recognition that individuals are free to maintain the religious beliefs of their choosing, and to manifest those beliefs in their daily lives. On October 18, 2017, the National Assembly of Québec adopted An Act to foster adherence to State religious neutrality and, in particular, to provide a framework for requests for accommodations on religious grounds in certain bodies, SQ 2017, c. 19 (the “Act”). The Act provides that public sector employees must exercise their functions with their faces uncovered. This requirement directly infringes the freedom of religion of individuals, such as Muslim women, who cover their faces as a religious practice.

The Affiants

The affiants included in this litigation are:

  • Fatima Ahmad, a Montréal native and university student who wears a niqab
  • Marie-Michelle Lacoste, a Montréal native who wears a niqab
  • National Council of Canadian Muslims
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Factum on the Intervenor
The Facts of the Case

Bill 62 was introduced on June 10, 2015 and passed on October 18, 2017. The Act’s Section 10 requires that one must have one’s face uncovered when providing or receiving public service. This includes government departments, public transit, health services, childcare centers and public schools, private schools receiving public funding, and universities. The affiants in this case state that not only does the Act hinder their ability to receive public services and attend university, but also that Islamophobic harassment has increased after the Act’s passage. Such blatant and unjustified violations of freedom of religion, as well as of the equality guarantees of the Québec and Canadian Charters, have no place in Quebec or Canada. These violations cannot be justified in Québec’s free and democratic society. Read the Application for Judicial Review for more details.

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