Judge puts stay of part of Quebec’s controversial religious neutrality law.

Published on : December 2, 2017 2:47

Any ban cannot come back into force without government guidelines.A Quebec Superior Court judge, Justice Babak Barin has granted a temporary suspension of the section of Quebec’s religious neutrality law that deals with face coverings.

The law has faced widespread criticism, stating it is unclear and unfairly targets Muslim women and fuels xenophobic attitudes.

In his decision, Barin went on to say that Section 10 cannot come back into force until the government adopts guidelines dictating how the restrictions on face coverings would work in practice.

The government has said it will not have those guidelines ready until next summer.

The controversial law was passed earlier this fall.The court challenge was filed by a coalition of Muslim and civil rights advocates, and Warda Naili, a Quebec woman who converted to Islam and wears a niqab.

They argued the law violates religious freedoms under the Canadian and Quebec charters of rights, targeting Muslim women who choose to wear a niqab or burka.

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Catherine McKenzie, says she and her partners argued the law is a “clear case of rights violation.”

“We argued that there was irreparable harm for the plaintiff, for the women affected by the law.”

For example, if the women don’t have access to medical services, school or public transportation, those are parts of their lives that cannot be compensated for, McKenzie explained.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard reacted to the stay Friday, saying there was nothing surprising in the judgment.

“I’m not unsatisfied with the judgment because there’s no mention of a violation of the charters [of rights] or any major constitutional problem,” Couillard told reporters during a stop in Saint-Félicien in the Saguenay region north of Quebec City.