MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Sikh community deserves fair consideration

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.

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.