United Sikhs

Melbourne, Australia-based 5-year-old Sidhak Singh – shown above with his father, Sagardeep Singh Arora – was allowed to wear his articles of faith at a school after United Sikhs advocated for him. (United Sikhs photo)

In response to the passage of a new law prohibiting public officials from wearing religious symbols at their workplace in Canada, United Sikhs, a global humanitarian charity, has launched a plan to formally remove the ban.

Citing “human rights violations, including discrimination and infringement on religious freedom,” the organization will challenge the law through various means, it stated in a press release.

“We will pursue multiple avenues of opposition to this discriminatory ban and challenge its validity to the fullest extent of the law,” Jagdeep Singh, CEO of United Sikhs and executive director for North America, said in a statement. “Canada has always been a beacon of diversity and inclusion, which this legislation goes against entirely. We look forward to an expeditious removal of the law as we work with the support of the global Sikh community, fellow organizations and government officials who oppose this shameful ban.”

Through its ‘Right to Turban’ program, United Sikhs has successfully won global legal battles for the right to wear articles of faith in schools, the workplace, prisons and other public places. This includes cases filed in India, Belgium, France, Australia and the U.S., the press release added.

Among the many cases that the organization has fought and won was the case of Sidhak Singh, 5, who was denied admission into a Christian school in Melbourne, Australia, because he kept unshorn hair and wore a patka (a type of turban worn by Sikh children) in 2016. United Sikhs engaged attorneys who successfully fought the ban at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which held that the school had discriminated against the Sikh boy by not allowing him to wear his articles of faith. The school then amended its uniform rules to accommodate all religious signs, including the hijab, the press release said.

“Our international civil and human rights advocacy team will employ methodologies from other cases we have argued around the world to challenge the new law in Canada,” Singh said. “Every human has a right to worship freely and express religious principles through symbols or clothing.”   

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