Quebec judge stays controversial face-cover law Bill 62

By Ingrid Peritz
The Globe & Mail | December 1, 2017

A judge has suspended Quebec’s requirement that people show their faces to obtain public services, dealing the province’s controversial « religious neutrality » law its first legal setback.

The Superior Court ruling on Friday means that, for now, people in Quebec who wear the Muslim niqab can continue accessing services such as taking the bus or borrowing a library book without showing their faces.

Since the adoption of Bill 62 by the Quebec National Assembly in October, it has been illegal for anyone in the province to give or obtain public services without showing their face. The law contained provisions to obtain a religious accommodation, but those rules were not yet in place.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and Canadian Civil Liberties Association went to court to seek the suspension of the face-covering provisions, arguing the matter was urgent because women who wore face coverings were facing harassment and discrimination.

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The National Council of Canadian Muslims welcomed Friday’s ruling. Executive director Ihsaan Gardee described it as « a successful first step in our legal action challenging a law that we firmly believe is both discriminatory and unconstitutional. »

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