Discrimination: Australian school didn't allow Sikh student to wear turban
An Australian tribunal has ruled that a Melbourne school discriminated against a five-year-old Sikh boy by barring him from enrolling because he wore a turban. The Melton Christian School's uniform policy prohibits non-Christian boys from wearing head coverings. However, the boy's father Sagardeep Singh Arora argued that not allowing him to wear the patka (child's turban) amounted to indirect discrimination.
Having uncut and unshorn hair is a central Sikh belief. Wearing a patka or a turban is an essential practice among Sikh males. However, the Christian school decided not to make an exception for the boy, named Sidhak. Arora said he was stunned by the school's rejection at an enrollment meeting with the family last year.
"In such an advanced country like Australia, it was just shocking," Arora told the BBC about the school's decision. "You have Sikh people wearing turbans in the police force and army in Australia, but my son can't go to school."
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that the school had left Sidhak disadvantaged by not letting him enroll in an institution close to his home. The school defended its decision by claiming an exemption under the state's discrimination laws that allow schools to impose reasonable dress codes for students after consulting the community. The tribunal ruled that the school's policy wasn't reasonable.
The court ruled that Melton had an open enrollment policy despite being a Christian school. Also, over 50% of the school community doesn't explicitly identify as Christian. The court said the school could have allowed Sidhak to wear a patka having the uniform colors. "We believe this is very good decision on behalf of the Sikh community in Australia," Arora said about the ruling.