The Sikh Council of New Zealand announced on Thursday that it would take legal action against an Auckland club that will not admit turban-wearing Sikhs to its premises because it bans all forms of headwear.
The Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club voted to confirm the "no hats" policy Sunday six months after prominent local Sikh Karnail Singh was refused entry to a function in his honour because of his turban.
The club premises had been hired for a private function to honour his work as a volunteer visitor to the elderly, a town ambassador and community gardener.
After Sunday's vote, one club member told the New Zealand Herald, "Many felt that once you change the rules to let in people who wear turbans, then the next thing is that we will also have to let people who wear hoodies and balaclavas into the premises."
The Sikh Council's secretary Verpal Singh said it would seek legal assistance from the Human Rights Commission for a court ruling that the ban infringed on the Human Rights Act.
Mediation organised earlier this year by the commission failed to resolve the issue and Singh said the council felt it had to reluctantly take legal action on behalf of the entire Sikh community. "We cannot let it stand that we are being excluded."
Verpal Singh said the courts, ex-servicemen's clubs and aviation security all allowed turbans.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres told the paper, "This is a simple matter of recognising religious diversity and, in particular, religious beliefs."
"We have police who wear turbans. This is uncaring and disrespectful."