Race Relations Commissioner keen to help resolve concerns held by Sikh New Zealanders‏

Race Relations Commissioner keen to help resolve concerns held by Sikh New Zealanders‏

March 16, 2015

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is keen to help resolve concerns held by Sikh Kiwis who were told to leave their kirpans with security staff at recent cricket games.

“Race relations are about relationships so the key thing is for all stakeholders to be talking with one another and I’m keen to meet with Sikh Kiwis and tournament organisers and bring people together to talk. The Human Rights Commission exists to help mediate and resolve these kinds of concerns,” said Dame Susan.

“This is about balancing the rights of New Zealanders to practice their faith as well as the rights of other New Zealanders who are hosting events.”

New Zealand law protects the right to freedom of religion (in particular the Human Rights Act and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990). This right clearly includes the carrying of a kirpan. However, the manifestation of religion can in exceptional circumstances be limited on safety grounds.

“A balance needs to be struck that everyone is happy with, before anyone resorts to legal action and interpretations it’s helpful to sit down and talk through these issues.  I am very happy to help make this happen.”

Dame Susan said the attitude of organisers is out of step with other major sporting events such as the London 2012 Olympics.  If an event of that size could work out the issue then perhaps it is time for more dialogue to happen between tournament organisers and Sikh New Zealanders.

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.

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