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Australia: Sikhs concerned over proposed ban on Kirpans in schools

December 23, 2012 | By

Victoria, Australia (December 23, 2012): As per media reports the Sikh Council of Australia and Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner have objected to the former state government’s amendment preventing a Kirpan, a Sikh ceremonial sword, being worn in schools.

Sikh Kirpan – is a sword that is considered to be integral part of practice of Sikh religion.

It is notable that the exemption granted to Sikhs as per provisions of The Weapons Act 1990 states – “A Sikh may possess, in a public place, a knife known as a Kirpan to comply with the person’s religious faith.”

However, the amendment now states: “It is not a reasonable excuse to physically possess a knife in a school for genuine religious purposes.”

The Sikh Council and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner have warned the amendment was discriminatory to ordained Sikhs required to wear the Kirpan.

The Kirpan is a one of the five Ks, necessary for a Sikh to possess as a part of religious duty.

As per a news report by Writing to the Sikh Council of Australia this year, former premier Anna Bligh’s office said: “The Queensland Government concluded that even though there is minimal risk that a Sikh might use their Kirpan to commit an offence in Queensland, the rationale for keeping all schools completely knife-free is strong.”

As per The Australian: “Department of Education, Training and Employment assistant director-general Marg Pethiyagoda said the wearing of a Kirpan at school would be considered case-by-case”.

“When a state school principal becomes aware that a Kirpan carried by a student or staff member on school premises has a sharp edge or is pointed or is being used to threaten or harm . . . the Kirpan may be retained by the principal and the matter referred to the police.” a news report by The Australian reads further.

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