Sikhs say they shouldn't be forced to wear helmets on motorbikes or hard hats on construction sites
A Sikh leader says believers shouldn't be forced to wear helmets on motorbikes or hard hats on construction sites - because removing their turbans takes too long.
Amar Singh, who is the president of Turbans 4 Australia, said he was one of many Sikhs who felt discriminated by laws in NSW making helmets compulsory for motorcyclists. The 38-year-old, from Sydney, said he was gifted a vintage motorcycle for his birthday but still hadn't had a chance to ride it because of his religious garb.
'It is a bit upsetting that I can't ride my motorbike. I love riding bikes. I used to ride them a lot overseas,' the transport manager told Daily Mail Australia. 'But it's not just about riding bikes but also about hard hats. Hard hats is a bigger issue affecting Sikhs in Australia.'
The Morrison Government is putting forward a religious discrimination bill but does not exempt Sikhs from being required to wear helmets if they're riding bikes in NSW. In NSW, all bike riders must wear a helmet but those in Victoria can be exempted for religious reasons.
'I'm not in favour of breaking any laws, which is why I've chosen not to ride my bike,' the president of Turbans 4 Australia said. 'But the Government should be more fair to the people of the Sikh community and allow us to be exempted from helmet and hard hat laws.
'Wearing the turban is a matter of faith and being Australian is about being fair for everyone else.' Mr Singh also said the Sikh community faces challenges of working in construction because wearing hard hats is mandatory for safety purposes. The Morrison Government is putting forward a religious discrimination bill but does not exempt Sikhs from being required to wear helmets if they're riding bikes in NSW
The Morrison Government is putting forward a religious discrimination bill but does not exempt Sikhs from being required to wear helmets if they're riding bikes in NSW 'There's a lot that we can't do if we can't wear a hard hat,' he said 'We can't drive forklifts. We can't lift cranes. We're constantly being told to do other tasks instead.'
Sikhs who have resorted to removing their turban to wear a hard hat say the process takes about 10-15 minutes. 'Your hair is often all over the place. Productivity loss is a big thing,' Mr Singh said. Sikhs do not cut their hair as a sign of respect for God and the turban is referred to a 'special crown'.
Mr Singh said Sikh soldiers fought with Allied forces at Gallipoli without wearing helmets. The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Australia told Daily Mail Australia they feel they have been discriminated against with the helmet laws. The group from Woolgolga in regional New South Wales say attending functions and wedding receptions is becoming an ordeal because they can't fit their helmets over their turbans. 'In Australia due to strict law about helmets, we are forced to wear helmets which we feel is discriminatory as we have to remove our turbans to wear helmets,' a representative for the club said.
They say travelling under '50 or 60 kilometres an hour' is a safe enough speed to ride without the safety headgear and would save them considerable time in relation to their turbans.