Sikhs must wear helmets in Ontario

Court rules province’s motorcycle helmet law does not discriminate

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Mar. 06, 2008
A judge in the Canadian province of Ontario ruled today that the province’s motorcycle helmet law does not religiously discriminate against turban-wearing Sikhs.

In a 35-page ruling, Ontario Court Justice James Blacklock wrote that riding helmetless would create a safety risk. He ruled that the law does not violate one’s freedom of religion because the added costs due to potential head injuries would be an unnecessary strain on the public health system.

Devout Sikh Baljinder Badesha, with the backing of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, brought the issue to court after receiving a C$110 ticket in 2005 for not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Badesha’s religion forbids him from wearing anything over his turban.

Sikhs have been granted exceptions to helmet laws in the United Kindom, Hong Kong and India, as well as the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba.

Badesha has been given 30 days to pay his fine, though he has the option of appealing the ruling.