Not discrimination

The Herald reports:

An Auckland Councillor has laid a complaint with the Human Rights Commission over a sign in the window of an Avondale shop banning people wearing burkas from entering.

The sign on the door of Coffee and Gems 2 Go says the shop has a “No Burkas, No Hoodies, No Sunglasses, No Helmets” policy.

According to the Companies Office, the store sells coffee and second hand jewellery.

Sounds perfectly reasonable. They are saying customers have to show their faces. A very reasonable protection measure.

, who represents the Albert-Eden-Roskill ward, told the Herald when a local woman sent her a photo of the sign on Thursday she thought “that’s not right” and believed it may be discriminatory and illegal to stop someone from entering a shop because they are wearing a burka.

“It looks as though the business is basically flouting the Human Rights Act. I’ve checked the Act and it says you can’t discriminate on the grounds of religion and the grounds of sex.”

They’re not. First of all the burka is not a religious requirement. A tiny tiny proportion of Islamic women wear them. Secondly the burka is not being singled out. The sign clearly lists other dress elements that block visual identification.  If they listed other forms of hijab such as headscarves then that might be discrimination. But it is absolutely fine to say we need to see your face for you to enter this store, and list what isn’t allowed.

After forwarding the photo to the Council’s compliance team Casey contacted the Human Rights Commission about the sign.

So it is a politician complaining, not an actual customer.

“I’m not questioning the motives of the business owner. I’m just saying that it doesn’t feel right that you should be discriminating [against] that particular group of women.

“I’ve never met the owner of the shop so it’s not really about them. It’s about the issue. The issue is: is any shop owner above the law which says you can’t discriminate in this way?”

It is not discrimination. If a religious group claimed that their religion requires them to wear balaclavas, that would not mean you can enter a store with a balaclava.

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