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Bill 21 is a horrendous law that violates human rights and harms people who are already marginalized.

This Quebec law bans people from working as teachers, lawyers, police officers, and more from wearing religious symbols such as crosses, hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes.

This not only affects people currently working in the public sector, but also the youth who aspire to those careers.

Why Bill-21 is an Issue

This egregious rights violation unfairly targets people who express their faith through what they wear.

People should not be forced to make the choice between their religion, their identity and their profession. The government should not be allowed to impose their beliefs on the people of Quebec, nor should they be dictating to individuals what they can and cannot wear.

The women who choose to wear scarves, hats, and turbans should also have a right to freedom of expression and religion, and to make their own choices without government interference, like all people in Canada.

Bill 21 harms immigrant and racialized communities in particular.

Our Recent Work on Bill-21

The government of Quebec is banning Canadians working in those professions from wearing religious symbols such as crosses, hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes.

CCLA is here to defend the rights and freedoms of those living in Quebec and millions of others in Canada. Together with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and a young education student, we challenged the law in court.

The Quebec government is forcing their politics on all Quebeckers by forcing people to dress contrary to their own private beliefs. This law discriminates against people currently working in the public sector, and the youth who aspire to those careers. These people are being mistreated by their provincial government, so we are fighting the government of Quebec in court.

CCLA is grateful for the support and pro bono contribution of our outstanding litigation team and their firm: David Grossman, Catherine McKenzie, Olga Redko, and Léa Charbonneau (IMK LLP).

“Our unwavering resolve to keep fighting for marginalized people in Canada, and our commitment to justice and equality, are why we urge everyone to stand together against the religious symbols ban. We can and must defeat this law,”

Noa Mendelsohn AvivCCLA’s Director of Equality
The Timeline


November 7, 2022

Hearing Begins at the Quebec Court of Appeal

CCLA joined the NCCM and other parties before the highest court in Quebec, arguing that Bill 21 should be struck down. Our arguments focused on the words, history, and structure of the Canadian constitution.


December 2, 2021

CCLA & NCCM File Factum (brief of legal arguments) Against Bill 21 in Quebec Court of Appeal

CCLA filed legal submissions against Bill 21 in the Quebec Court of Appeal. In this appeal, CCLA and our litigation partners, the NCCM and Ms. Hak, filed our legal reasons explaining how the law banning religious symbols in many public sector jobs is unconstitutional and should be struck down. 

The Laicité law (Bill 21) has had the most harmful impact on those Muslim women who wear hijab and wish to be teachers in Quebec’s public schools. This is a disproportionate violation of the rights of women, most of whom come from minority religious, racialized, and immigrant communities.

May 6, 2021

CCLA & NCCM Appealing Bill 21 Decision

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) are announcing our intention to appeal the Quebec Superior Court decision regarding Bill 21 to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

April 20, 2021

BREAKING NEWS: Part of Bill 21 Struck Down

Part of Quebec’s Bill 21 (anti-religious law) has been struck down.


November 23, 2020

Ongoing Trial

We are now entering the second stage of the trial challenging Bill 21 – the Laicity Act in Quebec. All of the evidence has now been presented before the court: the witnesses and experts have been examined and cross-examined. On November 30th the court will begin to hear almost 3 weeks of legal arguments, beginning with our excellent team of lawyers. They will explain to the court why, notwithstanding the notwithstanding clause, the law banning religious symbols in many workplaces is unconstitutional and must be struck down. The three other plaintiff parties, the government respondents, and multiple intervenors will also have their opportunity to be heard by the court. The trial is currently scheduled to conclude on December 17th.

November 2, 2020

Trial Begins

Our challenge against the Laicity Act (Bill 21), in which we will demonstrate that the law is unconstitutional and invalid, is scheduled to occur at the Quebec Superior Court. CCLA, NCCM and Hak will be in court for around five weeks fighting against the law. There are three other challenges that will be heard together with ours. The trial will have two parts: first witnesses, then legal arguments. CCLA, NCCM, and Hak are grateful to our extraordinary legal team: David Grossman, Olga Redko, and Léa Charbonneau (IMK LLP).

The hearings will start every day at 9:30am, in room 17.09 of the courthouse located at 1 Notre Dame Street East. There is a special entrance for lawyers. Everyone else uses the entrance on St-Antoine.


December 18, 2019

CCLA Applies to the Supreme Court

CCLA announces that we are applying for the Supreme Court to hear our case for the immediate suspension of Bill 21.

December 12, 2019

Decision: Court decides not to suspend Bill 21.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Quebec Court of Appeal decides Bill 21 won’t be voided at this time.

November 26, 2019

Appeal Hearing.

Appeal hearing to determine whether Quebec’s religious symbols law, An Act respecting the laicity of the State (formerly known as Bill 21) should be suspended.

August 1, 2019

Hearing Successful

CCLA, NCCM and Ichrak Nourel Hak ask Quebec Court of Appeal to review an earlier decision. The hearing was successful! The court grants permission to review lower court’s decision that denied our request to suspend the law.

July 22, 2019

Application for Leave

Filed our application for leave to appeal the denial of the suspension of the law.

July 18, 2019

Decision: Suspension Denied

Court decides to deny CCLA, NCCM and Hak’s request for suspension of the law.

July 2, 2019


Court Hearing at the Superior Court in Montreal.

June 17, 2019

Constitutional Challenge

CCLA, NCCM and Hak file constitutional challenge of the law and application to suspend its operation.

June 16, 2019

Bill 21 Passed

Bill 21 passes and becomes law. 

Materials & Documents

Latest Updates and Briefs


Leave to Appeal Filed at the Supreme Court of Canada on Bill 21 Case

OTTAWA — The National Council for Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and…
April 30, 2024

CCLA Reacts to Bill 21

MONTREAL — Today the Court of Appeal has issued a disappointing decision rejecting the constitutional challenge…
February 29, 2024

Extending the use of Notwithstanding Clause in Bill 21 is a grave injustice

TORONTO — Harini Sivalingam, Director of the Equality Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association,…
February 13, 2024


August 10, 2022

Remarques à l’occasion de l’anniversaire d’une hypocrisie – la loi 21

June 16, 2022

Join Us As We Stand Against Bill 21 and for Human Rights

This is a critical moment.
February 24, 2022

CCLA & NCCM file factum against Bill 21 in Quebec Court of Appeal

CCLA filed legal submissions against Bill 21 in the Quebec Court of Appeal. In this…
December 9, 2021

CCLA Remarks on Bill 21 Judgment by the Quebec Superior Court

Today is judgment day on Bill 21. A complex decision was handed down by the…
April 20, 2021

Whose Religious Symbols Can Shine???

In this season of darkness, the festivals of light bringing warmth and cheer may be…
December 21, 2020

2020 Quebec Superior Court

Suspending Bill 21 is an urgent matter. We were before the Quebec Court of Appeal…
December 20, 2019

Seeking to Appeal Interim Decision on Bill 21

July 23, 2019

Fighting Quebec’s Religious Symbol’s Ban – As it Unfolds

CCLA is currently challenging the discriminatory religious symbols ban, Bill 21 in Quebec alongside the…
June 19, 2019

CCLA In Court: Freedom of Religion

Bill 21 Constitutional Challenge and Application for Suspension of The Law
June 17, 2019

CCLA and NCCM’s Application Regarding Quebec’s Religious Symbols Ban

Bill 21, An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, passed in the Quebec National…
June 17, 2019
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