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Religious neutrality of the State

Over the past 30 years, the Commission published several studies and opinions on discrimination based on religion, management of religious diversity as well as reasonable accommodation and religion. Based on its expertise, as well as its past legal opinions founded on Québec, Canadian and international law, the Commission has, among other things, analyzed and commented on Bill 21 on the secularism of the State as well as other previous bills that sought to frame the religious neutrality of the State and requests for religious accommodation.

English language translations are provided when available.

2019  |  The Commission analyses Bill 21 on state secularism (laïcité). While supporting the inclusion of secularism in a law, it expresses serious concerns about how secularism would be translated into practice. It recommends that several sections of the bill, including those dealing with the wearing of religious symbols, which may infringe human rights and freedoms and encourage negative perceptions and prejudices against religious symbols, should not be adopted.

|  The Commission comments Bill 62, reitering that the state’s religious neutrality and the duty of reasonable accommodation are already defined and marked in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and warning against the misinterpretation of these concepts.

| The Commission comments Bill 60, Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests. The Commission considers this bill to be a clear setback for human rights and freedoms and believes it is likely to create more opportunities for conflict and disputes.

| The Commission releases its comments on the government policy paper regarding secularism and reasonable accommodations, entitled: Parce que nos valeurs, on y croit.

2011 | The Commission commented on Bill 94 establishing guidelines governing accommodation requests within the Administration in particular with respect to showing one's face during the delivery of services.

2010 | The Commission published an opinion on the guidelines of the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) governing reasonable accommodation. In the three cases analyzed, the Commission explained that the RAMQ had no duty to accommodate.

  • Communiqué (In french only) (PDF, 33 Ko) 
  • Avis (In french only) (PDF, 124 Ko)

2009 | The Commission commented on the Société de l'Assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)'s accommodation policy during driving tests.

2008 | The Commission concluded that the ethics and religious culture courses comply with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

  • Avis (French only) (PDF, 149 Ko)

2008 | The Commission reviewed the legal principles regarding the expression of faith in the public sphere, and the relationship between the State and religion. It also explained the legal basis for freedom of religion and the State’s obligation of neutrality under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The Commission has published other documents concerning religion. They can be accessed through the Publications section of our website.

To learn more...

Did you know ?

Since 2008, complaints based on religion make up between 2% and 4% of all complaints filed for human rights at the Commission. In 2020-2021, this represented 12 complaint files.