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Muslim, civil liberties groups to appeal Quebec court ruling on religious symbols law

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 10:33 am PDT

MONTREAL — Two groups that unsuccessfully challenged Quebec’s religious symbols law in court say they’ll be appealing last month’s ruling.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association say in a statement today the law known as Bill 21 makes Quebecers who wear symbols such as hijabs, turbans and kippahs second-class citizens.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard acknowledged in his April 20 ruling that the law violates the rights of Muslim women and has dehumanizing consequences for those who wear religious symbols.

But he largely upheld the law, which the province had shielded from charter challenges by invoking the notwithstanding clause.

Bill 21 was adopted in June 2019 and prohibits public sector workers who are deemed to be in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs and turbans on the job.

The Quebec government has said it will appeal because the ruling struck down clauses pertaining to English-language school boards and members of the provincial legislature, while a teachers union has said it would also appeal, arguing the law infringes on the rights of its members to work in the profession.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press