On October 18th, the National Assembly of Québec passed Bill 62 which, as well as the imposition of other worrying limits to religious accommodation, bans the wearing of face coverings while either giving or receiving public services. This legislation, which blatantly targets women who choose to wear veils, uses the language of “state religious neutrality” to further discrimination and marginalization in the province for political gain.
Almost a month after the passing of the bill, it is still unclear how and where it will be applied. This confusion shows that the pressure that has been created by the community works. It is imperative that we students stand up and condemn racism when we see it – especially when it is mobilized in provincial legislation and becomes a legislated barrier to accessible education for veiled Muslim women currently in our community or who may want to become a member of our community in the future.
We at the SSMU also wish to condemn the language of neutrality mobilized by the bill, understanding that neutrality often is code for straight white cis-gendered heterosexual male and that all identities outside of this description are often denied the space to be ‘neutral’ or ‘apolitical’. We will continue to follow Bill 62 closely and condemn it firmly and adamantly until it is repealed. We encourage our members to write letters and emails, to start the conversation about Bill 62 in their classrooms, and to support the court challenges to Bill 62 that have been submitted.
At this time, we wish to extend our solidarity, support, and resources, to the members of our community that have been affected by this bill – by its contents, by the harmful discourse it has engendered in our province, and by state-sanctioned discrimination more broadly. Although it is easy to point fingers at the Québec Liberals and this bill, it is important that we take this time to think about practices, conversations, and policy within our own communities that is a product of the same mentality that Bill 62 is.
Bill 62 is the manifestation of a mentality of division and fear that has been mobilized in our province, and therefore explicitly a student issue. We cannot ignore it, and must continue to mobilize with other community groups until it is repealed.
Muna Tojiboeva, President
Jemark Earle, Vice-President (Student Life)
Maya Koparkar, Vice-President (Internal Affairs)
Isabelle Oke, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Connor Spencer, Vice-President (External Affairs)
- Muslim Students’ Association
- Peer Support Centre
- McGill Counselling
- Social Equity and Diversity Education Office
- McGill Nightline
Resources on Bill 62: