ADVOCATING AGAINST BILL 21
Bill 21 was passed in June 2019, banning public employees from wearing religious symbols such as hijabs, turbans, crosses, and yarmulkes (see https://tinyurl.com/ccla-bill-21). This law invokes conceptions of state religious neutrality to enact discriminatory restrictions on religious and cultural expression in Quebec, disproportionately harming religious minorities and marginalized people, including but not limited to Muslim, Jewish and Sikh communities. It is inscribed in a broader xenophobic political agenda, disproportionately affects women and gender minorities, and is a blatant example of systemic racism.
As per our Freedom of Religion position, SSMU strongly, vigorously, and unequivocally opposes Bill 21, in solidarity with those affected. Bill 21 has previously been condemned by SSMU and was, in 2020, one of the main campaigns at SSMU, with most of the work being steered by the Education Undergraduate Society of McGill (EdUS), McGill’s Law Student Association (LSA), and clubs like RadLaw McGill and McGill Muslim Law Student Association (MLSA). Among this work includes a statement from the EdUS citing concerns over the discriminatory ideals rooted within Bill 21. As well, the McGill Coalition Against Bill 21 was formed, composed of McGill community members, to raise awareness and take action against this law.
Outside of McGill University, many organizations have campaigned, petitioned, and taken legal action against Bill 21, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and the Coalition Inclusion Quebec. This year, Judge Marc André Blanchard of the Quebec Superior Court upheld the Bill with only minor exceptions, perpetuating its discriminatory ideals despite the mass amounts of criticism against it (see https://tinyurl.com/cbc-Quebec-Court-Ruling).
Bill 21 will continue to be met with resistance and mobilization from SSMU, and we invite you to get involved by educating yourself and others about Bill 21 and its damaging effects, signing the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ petition, and keeping up to date with the McGill Coalition Against Bill 21 for news updates, further action steps, and ways you can help.