Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Canadian Court Upholds Denial of Driver's License To Pastafarian Wearing Pirate's Hat

In Canada, in Smith v. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, (BC Sup. Ct., Feb. 26, 2021), a British Columbia trial court upheld the dismissal by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal of a religious discrimination complaint filed by a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The province's driver's license authority had refused to issue petitioner a license using his photo that showed him wearing a pirate's tricorn hat. The Tribunal had said:

You are a Pastafarian and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster which mocks religious beliefs and certain religious practices.  Pastafarians wear colanders as “religious” head gear.

While the protection against discrimination on the ground of religion in the Code includes protecting the expression of non-belief and the refusal to participate in religious practice, the protection does not require accommodation of a practice satirizing religious practice in providing a service customarily available to the public.  It would not further the purposes of the Code to proceed with a complaint in these circumstances.

In refusing to overturn the Tribunal's decision, the court said in part:

The Tribunal determined that accepting the petitioner’s complaint for filing “would not further the purposes of the Code”, one of which is to “promote a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all people are equal in dignity and respect”.  In my view, the Tribunal’s Decision ... cannot be said to have been patently unreasonable.

Castanet reports on the decision.