Melbourne Christian school reverses turban ban after discrimination ruling

A Christian school in Melbourne, Australia, has made a few changes to its uniform policy after a tribunal ruling in September found that it had discriminated against a Sikh boy by not allowing him to attend school because he wore a patka, which is a turban for children.

(REUTERS / Ahmad Masood)A man wearing a traditional turban casts his vote inside a polling station in Ajmer district in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan on April 17, 2014.

In September, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ruled that Melton Christian College had discriminated against 5-year-old Sidhak Singh Arora by not allowing him to enter school wearing his patka. The school and the boy's parents later on issued a joint statement revealing that the uniform policy had been revised to provide medical or religious exemptions, thus allowing him to begin attending the school for the 2018 school year, The Sydney Morning Herald detailed.

"MCC regrets the difficulties that took place with respect to the enrolment and the family is grateful to the school for the amendments it has made to the uniform policy in order to welcome Sidhak to the school," the statement said.

Arora's parents had attempted to enroll him at MCC in 2016, but the boy had not been permitted to attend classes wearing the patka. Upon intervention by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, it was ruled that the two parties should negotiate and come up with a way to solve the issue.

The school previously argued that the "turban ban" was legal under the Equal Opportunity Act exemptions. However, VCAT found that the school's uniform policy was "openly discriminatory."

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the Nigerian Law School sparked outrage after it kept Muslim student Abdulsalam Fridaus Amasa from attending the bar ceremony because she had refused to remove her hijab. The school's decision was challenged by civil rights activists, who pointed to a previous court ruling which defended Muslim women's right to wear the headscarf, the Anadolu Agency reported.

Muslim lawyer and activist Ahmad Adetola-Kazeem called out the school for its alleged religious discrimination and said the school does not have a ban on hijabs. He added that the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria will hold a meeting to discuss the possible steps that they can take to address the issue.