Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reasonable accommodation or yielding to those who disrespect their fellow citizens?

There has been a slow but steady stream of stories regarding friction between sectarian and non-sectarian groups in Montreal lately, such as covering the windows of a pool so Muslim girls could take a swim test and replacing the windows of a gym with frosted glass at the request of (and paid for by) a neighbouring Orthodox Jewish school. I have no real problem with either, especially the latter since the accommodation did not cost the gym a dime but it has offended some of the members.

This one in my opinion is a whole different ballgame. The Star reports female Montreal police officers encountering a Hasidic Jewish person who declines to interact with them to call a male colleague to take over the interview. Apparently it happens in Toronto too:
Toronto police only accommodate requests for specific officers from Hasidic males, and anyone else who asks, when someone comes into a station in a non-emergency situation.

If your culture doesn't allow you to interact with women as equals then you really shouldn't live in a country where sexual equality is a legal right. Not to mention that most Canadians who tried ignoring a female cop would find life unpleasant shortly thereafter and any attempted defence written off as misogyny.

UPDATE: now "New Men" can sod off from neonatal classes: (Globe and Mail via Google)

A Montreal community health clinic has come under fire for excluding men from their neonatal classes to accommodate the sensibilities of Muslim, Sihk and Hindu women.

ADQ Leader Mario Dumont said the prohibition exceeds the limits of common sense.

He said it's unreasonable that a Quebec taxpayer is barred from joining his pregnant girlfriend at a health clinic because his presence would offend others.
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