Sikh complains of discrimination in New Zealand

Wellington, June 18 (IANS) A Sikh barred from entering a club in New Zealand’s Auckland city for wearing a turban has filed a religious discrimination complaint, a media report said on Thursday.

Gurpreet Singh, who was barred from entering the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club with his colleagues on Tuesday, lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in New Zealand on Wednesday, Stuff online reported.

When he was told that he was breaching the club’s no-headwear policy, Singh tried to explain to the staff that the turban was part of his religious belief and not something he could take off.

The club’s President, John Stevens said the “rule was not about religious discrimination” and was aimed to “stop people coming in with beanies, caps, hoodies and other headwears.”

Although the importance of the rule was discussed in a company meeting five years ago, members voted unanimously in favour of retaining the rule.

This is not the first time when the club’s no-headwear policy came into conflict with religious groups.

In 2009, another turban-wearing Sikh man, Karnail Singh, was barred from entering for the same reason.

The same year, a Muslim expat student was stopped from dining at the club because she was wearing a “hijab” (religious headscarf).

Prime Minister John Key termed the barring as “very disappointing”.

“I’d like to think culturally we’re a very considerate society. People wear turbans because of their religious beliefs… and I think we should try and be more inclusive of them.”

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