For immediate release
LPA-AFT intervenes before the courts in support of Bill 21
Montreal, 15th June 2020 — Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT), an association which promotes secularism and supports the rights of atheists, announces that it will be seeking permission to intevene as a friend before the courts in the case I. N. HAK et al. versus the Attorney-General of Québec.
LPA-AFT considers Bill 21 to be landmark legislation, an historic step forward for secularism. Although its provisions are modest—its ban on religious symbols applies to only part of the civil service and, furthermore, it does not end the considerable fiscal privileges currently enjoyed by religious institutions—the law nevertheless places Quebec in the vanguard of the fight for secularism in the world. In light of its affirmation of State secularism, its insertion of that principle in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, as well as its concern for the freedom of conscience of school students and civil service users, Bill 21 is momentous legislation.
In the words of David Rand, president of Atheist Freethinkers, “As secularists, we have a duty to do everything in our power to ensure that this law is neither repealed nor weakened by the adversaries of fundamental freedoms and of secularism, because the Act helps to protect everyone’s freedom of conscience. As atheists, we welcome the objective, expressed through Bill 21, to end certain religious privileges that constitute discrimination against atheists and other unbelievers.” Indeed, to allow civil servants and schoolteachers to indulge in ideological displays while on the job, provided that their ideology is religious, constitutes an unjustifiable privilege for religions.
For the purposes of this intervention, Atheist Freethinkers will be represented by Maître Marc-André Nadon who distinguished himself before the courts in his defence of author and secular activist Djemila Benhabib against gratuitous accusations, as well as by his colleague Maître Samuel Bachand, from the law firm PFD Avocats. Atheist Freethinkers joins two other associations, Mouvement laïque québécois (MLQ) and Pour les droits de femmes du Québec (PDF-Q) who have already intervened in support of Bill 21.
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