Religious sword ban: AUS finds legal options

After a court ruled that the statewide law that prevents people from carrying religious weapons on school grounds constitutes racial discrimination, the state of Queensland has decided to investigate all possible legal avenues.

Sikh woman Kamaljit Kaur Athwal prevailed in the historic judicial battle to overturn the ban. She argued that the prohibition unfairly targeted people who carried the ceremonial sword of their religion, known as the kirpan.

In order to fulfil the obligations of their religion, Sikhs who have completed their initiation is required to wear the kirpan, which is often covered up by clothing.

The law in Queensland said that it was illogical to “physically possess a knife in a school for genuine religious purposes,” which made it illegal for members of religious organizations to carry the blade on school premises.

This Thursday, the state’s court of appeal determined that the measure was “inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act.”

The court came to the conclusion that “carrying a kirpan as a symbol of a religious commitment would, at least, ordinarily constitute a use of the knife for a lawful purpose – that is, religious observance,” stating their reasoning for their decision.

“To say that both Sikhs and non-Sikhs are unable to practice their religion while wearing a knife is to ignore the fact that carrying a knife is only a component of the religious observance of Sikhs. To say that both groups are unable to do so is to ignore this fact.”

“Legislation that makes it illegal for a person to bring a knife into a school for religious reasons has an effect on Sikhs since it prevents them from legitimately accessing schools while still adhering to their religious beliefs.

“No other group finds that their freedom of religion or freedom of movement is limited in such a way.”

During the estimates hearings held on Thursday, the state education minister, Grace Grace, was questioned on whether or not parents ought to be concerned.

Grace confessed that the department had not been prepared for the court’s ruling and that the government as a whole was contemplating the effects that the decision would have in the long run.

She stated that “we haven’t had the opportunity to analyze the decision in order to see exactly if there is a way that we can fix this.” “But obviously, we want to have a look at the full gamut of that, and I want to work with the various ministers,” she said. “But we want to look at the full gamut.”

“From what I’ve been told, the ban on carrying knives into schools is based on the weapons act; however, we do not yet have enough information to determine whether or not this ban will be relaxed in the future.

“We do not understand the complexities. We might need to consult an expert in order to determine whether or not we can postpone the choice.

When Grace was asked if the Palaszczuk government would appeal the court’s judgment, she responded by saying that the possibility was being considered.

“We need to look at it in a balanced and proper way, and we need to determine the way forward,” she said. “We need to figure out how to move forward.” “There hasn’t been a window of opportunity for us to carry out that. I want to reassure the people of Queensland and the communities that are impacted by education that we will examine that choice in great detail.

Michael De’Ath, who is the director general of the Education Department, stated that it was still being looked at. “I have only just been made aware of this finding, and the department is currently considering how it will respond.”

Mark Ryan, who is the minister of police, was also questioned over the decision made by the court.

“We’ll have a look at it,” he said to the reporters there. “I believe that the conversation needs to take place with the administration of the Commonwealth. Therefore, it is only natural that when I next speak with the Attorney General of the Commonwealth, I will bring up Queensland’s stance, as well as our positive work in attempting to reduce knife crime and the efforts that we’ve put forward to do so.

 

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