Helmet or Turban?

Heated debate between religion and safety

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There are few topics of discussion that can create more separation and conflict than religion or politics, unless of course you manage to combine religion and politics. That is precisely what happened in Ontario, Canada when a devout Sikh by the name of Baljinder Badesha decided to wear his turban instead of approved head protection while riding his motorcycle.

Badesha was handed a $110 ticket for riding without a helmet northwest of Toronto. His defense was that his religion forbids him from covering his turban and he shouldn’t be made to choose between his faith and his motorcycle.

While most people scoffed at the stupidity of the situation, fellow Sikh motorcyclists were outraged by what they called a “devastating precedent against minorities.” The 39 year-old father of four was supported by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which challenged the constitutional validity of the province’s Highway Traffic Act.

Although Ontario Court Justice James Blacklock claimed that he sided with the defendant’s right to religious freedom in this matter, he then added that, “the benefit that society gains in possible reduced health costs from him wearing a helmet trumps those rights.” The ticket was upheld and Badesha was responsible for paying the fine, in addition to the court fees accrued. His ultimate goal was to see the Ontario legislature grant an exemption for Sikh motorcyclists, but no such luck.

It isn’t discrimination, it’s the law, and laws exist for a reason. In this case the law is to prevent motorcyclists from spilling their brains all over the Province’s highways. While many riders may oppose the ruling, it should be the same for each individual no matter what their race or religion. If you don’t want to follow the law, then that is your prerogative, but by doing so you should be prepared to accept the consequences for your actions.

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  • FZ

    Sounds like Mr. Badesha is due for a relocation to one of America’s “free” states.

  • Peter Parker

    Actually, in Hong Kong (where I live), the British colonial administrators in the past had solved this situation for us. They brought in Sikhs as well as other Indians to HK to help them, and encountered the same complaint from the turban-wearing Sikh community. So, in the traffic laws (Chapter 374F, Regulation 10), such people can apply to the Commissioner for Transport, for exemption from wearing helmets; the Commissioner may grant such exemptions on case by case basis.

  • David

    What’s the big deal? It’s just an ugly plastic (it is plastic, right?) shell that goes over your head, is uncomfortable, claustrophobic, causes hair loss, blocks traffic sounds and stops cops from catching you, right?
    Actually, all of that is wrong.
    All of the attributes associated with helmets in the previous sentence are myths. Pure fiction. Helmets, in fact, can be extremely comfortable and airy, do not cause any physical problems in prolonged use, do not obscure your sense of traffic in any way and do not stop the cops from catching you, either.
    The origins of motorcycle helmets lies in the aviator style caps and goggles early motorcyclists used to wear.
    Not only safety it’s now a part of our fashion. So, be careful and choosy before you buy one. I go through different stores and websites to find out a good looking and comfortable helmet. Finally I browsed this one http://www.mickbyrne.co.uk and found exactly what I needed. These are really eye catching and comfortable.

  • http://www.tinyurl.com/myenfield Chris Bartlett

    Since he can’t cover the turban, can’t he put on the helmet, then wrap the turban around the helmet?

  • Kenny Smartz

    In BC, Sihks are allowed to wear turbans instead of helmets.

  • joe

    why not make a helmet that is also a turban? a hel-ban. or a tur-met? i might even be convinced to wear a helmet if it looked like that!

  • DAvi

    Here in BC I spent 6 months working on getting a siteseeing permit for running tours here. Now at the end of the red tape I can get the permit by ICBC does not have the plates to needed for people carrying so it seems no way bikes are allow to be used for siteseeing or over uses in this field.

  • Jimbo

    Guys — Don ‘t make Sikhs choose between riding and not riding.. they have to wear a turban, and they can’t tie it around the helmet! In most military where Sikhs serve, they don’t wear a helmet, but the turban can be even better than a helmet. If Sikhs are wearing a turban, they have excellent protection from head injuries.

  • Gurmeet SIngh

    Listen People SIKH’s are going to wear turban, no son of a bitch can stop them wearing turbans, what ever the f#%*in’ law says we are going to do what our religion says….Mind it..

  • Cam Baldeep

    We are in Canada now and we should respect thier laws if we want them to respect our culture or religion.
    Remember it was thier country first and we should keep the peace.
    There is no need for bad language.

  • Ryan Flannery

    Haha SIKH means doodoo in my country.

  • Aman Badesha

    Your all f#ck%n priCks, what a bunch of haters. Get a f#ck%n life!

  • MtrHead1975

    Against your religon or not its the law.Its to bad…but thats the way it is.I dont like going the speed limit so i dont, but im willing to pay the price for it.Its the law and if you break it you pay….Just the way it is.And to all you haters of people differnt then you.Grow up….

  • deadman

    Dont like the laws here GO HOME

  • http://www.katiavstrom.multiply.com Katia Alvim

    Sikh military Air Force pilots wear a special head band underneath the flight helmet, it is nothing new. It’s religion aproved. I don’t see the point in discussing about such simple thing. No air force pilot ever argued about it, for obvious reasons!

  • Pardeep Singh

    Baptized Sikhs must keep their head covered at all times with a turban or scarf for ladies, Sikhs cannot wear any type of hat whether a beanie, baseball cap or a helmet/hard hat not over their turbans or under. a Sikh’s turban must be wrapped and unwrapped one layer at a time and it itself may not be removed or put onto the head like a cap. Yes Sikhs are different and we respect all other religions equally however if you do not know the facts as to why sikhs cannot wear any type of hat please respectfully educate yourselves before making comments. Now a good solution would be such a fabric that when tied as a turban would provide the same protection/ The UK is developing a bullet proof fabric that turbaned Sikh police officers will be able to wear to be allowed on patrol duty. Other than this type of fabric any Baptised Sikh who wears any type of cap on his/her head is in violation of their religion.