A 30-year-old Sikh man working in New Zealand was barred from a club because of his turban, prompting him to lodge a complaint alleging religious discrimination.Gurpreet Singh, a real estate agent was not allowed to enter the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club in Auckland for lunch with colleagues as he breached the club's no-headwear policy.
"We tried to explain to club staff that the turban was part of our faith and not something I could take off," Singh was quoted as saying by The New Zealand Herald."But they said 'No, we have this policy and we are sticking to it," he said. "Instead of arguing we just left."
"I don't know whether it's being racist or ignorance, but what they did left me shocked and insulted. I was embarrassed by the incident," Singh said.Further, a complaint was lodged yesterday of religious discrimination with the Human Rights Commission.
He had been in New Zealand for seven years and this was the first time his turban had caused problems, it reported."Turbans are recognised in New Zealand as a cultural item. If we go for a passport, or driver’s license, or to the bank, we're allowed to wear the turban," Singh added.
"It's just the standard rule we've had in our club for the last 50 years. It is to stop people coming in with beanies, with caps, with hoodies and this sort of stuff," said John Stevens, President of the club.
The club's policy has been labelled "ignorant" by the president of the Manukau Indian Association, Veer Khar, who said "they need to get more educated".
According to the club's manger, Patricia Rangi, it is their policy to ban entry to all people wearing headgear, including those wearing it for religious reasons.Singh said he did not think a club or restaurant should be different, and the policy needed to be changed.