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Act Respecting the Laicity of the State

The Act

On June 16, 2019, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted the Act Respecting the Laicity of the State, which proclaims that the State of Quebec is a lay State (s. 1). According to the Act, the laicity of the State is based on four (4) principles: (1) the separation of the State and religions; (2) the religious neutrality of the State; (3) the equality of all citizens; and (4) freedom of conscience and freedom of religion (s. 2). The Act provides for a prohibition on wearing a religious symbols for certain categories of public officials, including teachers and directors of public primary and secondary schools, police officers and several public officials exercising a legal profession (see Schedule II of the Act), except for those who were employed in the relevant functions on or before 27 March 2019. According to the Act, a religious symbol is "any object, including clothing, symbol, jewellery, an adornment, an accessory or headwear, that is (1) worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief, or (2) reasonably considered to refer to a religious affiliation" (s. 6). Also, the Act specifies in s. 8, that government employees must exercise their functions with their face uncovered, as must a person who presents themselves to receive a public service, except for reasons of health, disability, or the requirements tied to their function. Also, the Act makes two (2) changes of a constitutional nature to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, by inserting in the preamble, the following sentence: "Whereas the Québec nation considers State laicity to be of fundamental importance," and by inserting laicity as a condition for the exercise of fundamental freedoms and rights (s. 9 of the Charter).

See also: Current debate.

D 29 May 2020    ABertrand Lavoie

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