Queen's University

Charter should protect women who wear the niqab

2012-01-03

Queen’s University professor Bev Baines is available to comment on veils not being allowed during citizenship oaths. She is a professor of public and constitutional law and her research focus is on the guarantee of women’s equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The Charter should protect women who wear the niqab when they assert a nexus between their right to gender equality and their right to freedom of religion,” professor Baines said. “Appearance is not only personal but also gendered. The state should not interfere with it unless national security is implicated and even then, only if no reasonable accommodation is possible. If allowing a veiled woman to take the oath of citizenship troubles Minister Jason Kenney he should be required to show that there is no reasonable way to accommodate the religious and gendered appearance of the women whom he is attempting to coerce into conformity with his stereotype of the ‘good’ Canadian woman.”

According to news reports, the minister had heard concerns from judges that some Muslim women wearing face-covering garments may not actually be reciting the oath when taking part in the ceremony.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officers Anne Craig at anne.craig@queensu.ca, 613.533.2877 or Michael Onesi at michael.onesi@queensu.ca, 613.533.6000 ext. 77513, Queen’s News and Media Services.

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