U.K. gets a new law, secures rights of Sikhs to carry kirpans

May 19 2019 03:53 PM
U.K. gets a new law, secures rights of Sikhs to carry kirpans

The U.K. government has passed an amendment by which Sikhs in the country will be allowed to carry kirpans and use it during religious and cultural functions. The bill had been amended late last year to ensure that it would not impact the right of the British Sikh community to possess and supply kirpans, or religious swords. 

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"We have engaged closely with the Sikh community on the issue of kirpans. As a result, we have amended the Bill to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue," a UK Home Office spokesperson said. 

The All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs had led a delegation to the U.K. Home Office to ensure that the kirpan remains exempt when the new Bill becomes law.

"I am pleased to see the government amendment...which reflects the importance of not criminalising the Sikh community for the sale or possession of large kirpans," said Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs. 

The Offensive Weapons Act covers new offences around possession of certain offensive weapons in public and enforces new restrictions on the online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products in attempt to crackdown on rising knife and acid-related attacks in the country. 

Large kirpans, with blades over 50 cm, are used by the community during religious ceremonies in gurdwaras as well as for ceremonies involving the traditional Sikh Gatka martial art. The act is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm. 

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