Sikhs welcome law change on Kirpan

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi

The Government is proposing a law change around the wearing of Kirpan.

Kirpan is a ceremonial knife. It is one of the five articles of the Sikh faith, and holds tremendous significance for practising Sikhs.

Prime Minister Bill English announced on August 4 that, if re-elected, a National-led Government will amend the Crimes Act to exempt Sikhs who carry a Kirpan for religious reasons from being considered to be in possession of an offensive weapon.

Not offensive

Kirpan is not used as an offensive weapon but solely as an important symbol of faith.

This is a welcome announcement for the Sikh community, and will ensure that the Sikh faith is protected under the New Zealand law.

I have long advocated for the Sikh community, and I currently have a Private Member’s Bill in the ballot which would allow baptised Sikhs to carry Kirpans in public and work places.

Air Travel not covered

The proposed amendment does not change the Civil Aviation Rules governing what may be carried on board a domestic flight, and decisions around prohibited items remain under the jurisdiction of the CAA.

New Zealand is a vibrant, multicultural country which values diversity and I am proud to be part of a Government that recognises this.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is Member of Parliament on National List.

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