The Government must clarify where and when Sikhs can wear a kirpan – a ceremonial dagger which their religion requires them to always carry, Labour’s spokesperson for Ethnic Communities Phil Goff says.
“While I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensure that Sikhs are not discriminated against in being prevented from wearing the kirpan in public, clearly more weight will attach to legislation allowing this than a statement at a press conference.
“In other countries, such as India, Canada, the United Kingdom and some Australian states, legislation has been passed recognising this right.
“This would prevent the situation which occurred at the Cricket World Cup on Saturday where some Sikhs were able to enter the ground wearing the kirpan and some were prohibited.
“Safety considerations, of course, have to be taken into account but the experience in other jurisdictions appears to have been that the right by law to carry the kirpan has not caused problems.
“If the Prime Minister is serious about what he has said, he should instruct his Justice Minister to draft legislation accordingly. A select committee can then hear submissions from all parties to determine what, if any, restrictions are needed.
“The policy should be to allow maximum freedom of Sikhs to practise their religious beliefs, consistent with the safety of the community,” Phil Goff says.