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2019 - Secularism Act

The National Assembly of Quebec has adopted the Act Respecting the Laicity of the State on June 6, 2019 (see Law and religion > General presentation).

Context of enactment
The Act was adopted in the Quebec context of debates on reasonable accommodation (see Reasonable Accommodation). The Act follows two previous bills, namely Bill 94, introduced in 2011, which provides a framework for accommodation requests and prohibits the concealment of the face in public services, and Bill 60, introduced in 2013, which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols for all government employees. None of these bills were passed due to changes in government. The Act also follows the Act to Foster Adherence to State Religious Neutrality, adopted in 2018, which provides a framework for requests for reasonable accommodation.

Disputes
Three (3) challenges have been filed in the Quebec courts, one by Coalition Inclusion Québec (an immigrant rights activist association), one by the English-Montreal School Board (Montreal’s English-language network of elementary and secondary schools) and one by Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (a teachers’ union). Among other things, these challenges present documented evidence on the numerically greater presence of Muslim women wearing the hijab who would be affected by the State’s Secularism Act. Other challenges have at the same time been filed in the courts to immediately suspend the application of the Act, without success.

D 29 May 2020    ABertrand Lavoie

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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