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Friday, March 07, 2008

Sikh man's challenge to helmet law dismissed

An Ontario judge opted for health over religion yesterday, refusing a devout Sikh's request to be exempt from an Ontario law that requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

Ontario Court Judge James Blacklock said that while the law certainly does violate Baljinder Badesha's Charter right to freedom of religion, that breach is justified on the basis of reduced health costs and lives saved.

Judge Blacklock said that there is nothing speculative about the severe brain injuries that would result from a relaxation of the helmet law. "We are talking about the certainty of brain injury, some of them severe," he said.

Mr. Badesha and the Ontario Human Rights Commission argued that the helmet law discriminates against Sikhs because their religion obliges them to cover their long hair with nothing more than a turban. [Link]

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