In March of 2019, the government of Quebec premier François Legault, the founding leader of the centre-right Coalition Action Démocratique (CAQ), passed “An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State”, also known as Bill 21.
Bill 21 prohibits certain public servants in positions of authority, including judges, police officers, government lawyers, principals and vice-principals, as well as elementary and high school teachers, from wearing religious symbols such as a hijab, crucifix, turban or kippah while on the job.
This contentious law has polarized public opinion. The detractors of Bill 21 claim that it fuels anti-religious sentiment, disproportionately affects Muslim women, and restricts the freedom of conscience and is, therefore, unconstitutional. The supporters of Bill 21 argue that it enforces the healthy separation of state and religion, prevents passive proselytism, and enhances gender equality by “freeing women from the constraints of oppressive religions”.