Bill 21

Quebec’s secularism law, commonly known as Bill 21, was passed by the Quebec National Assembly on June 16, 2019. The 18-page law contains many statements of principle declaring the province’s commitment to secularism, or laïcité, but also fine details like imposing a dress code on several categories of provincial civil servants, including police officers and teachers. Article 6 of the law prohibits some civil servants from wearing “clothing, a symbol, jewelry, adornments, accessories or headwear” that is connected to a religious belief or could be “reasonably considered” as such.

While the law is popular in Quebec, it is also hotly contested in the province and across Canada. Several people from religious minorities who have been forced to choose between career ambitions and religious faith are challenging the law, supported by advocacy groups.

Three Quebec governments under three party banners have tried to settle the province’s debate over secularism using legislation, ranging from Bill 21 to the Charter of Values to Bill 62. This page gathers together commentary on all of those projects and Quebec’s ongoing clash among competing values of secularism, religious freedom and individual rights.

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