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Sikh men in NSW are having their driver’s licence renewal applications rejected because of their turbans
The Sikh community has been an unfortunate casualty of NSW Roads and Maritime Services attempts to apply strict laws regarding the wearing of head coverings in identification photos.
Leading members of the community met with Daniel Mookhey MLC last year after a large number of Sikh men, predominantly hailing from western Sydney, were asked to remove, or adjust, their turbans at RMS facilities when either applying for, or renewing, their driver’s licences.
Despite local RMS offices approving the licence photos, the central RMS processing facility would then reject the images. This required the men to then return to an RMS office to take another photo.
According to the RMS website, “Head coverings worn for religious reasons may be worn, but must be adjusted so that your whole face is visible, from the bottom of your chin to the top of your forehead, and both edges of your face. There should also be no shadows cast on your face.”
Mr Mookhey said that immediately after his meeting with Sikh community representatives he wrote a letter to the Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay asking for an urgent investigation.
Today in NSW Parliament after months of silence, the NSW Opposition asked a question without notice to the Minister, demanding answers.
“Even though the Minister was conspicuously silent on whether Sikh men have been having their licence applications rejected because of their headwear, he said this practice won’t be happening in the future,” Mr Mookhey said. “This is a welcome start, but it shouldn’t have taken NSW Labor to force the Government’s hand.”
Though he is not a Sikh, Mr Mookhey wears the Kara, a bracelet commonly worn by Sikhs as an outward display of their faith. “Every time I’ve passed through airport security, I’ve seen for myself how much change is needed in government agencies like RMS and the Passport Office, and in Australia’s airports, so they properly honour and respect the Sikh faith,” Mr Mookey said today. “We’ll hold the Government to its promise, and we’ll lead the fight for more change.”
Comment was sought from the Minister offices.