A 30-year-old Sikh man, Sardar Gurpreet Singh, was recently being barred from entering a Cosmopolitan Club in Auckland, New Zealand for lunch with colleagues because he was wearing a turban. This has prompted him to lodge a complaint alleging religious discrimination. The Sikh real estate agent says he was "shocked" and "insulted" after he was denied entry to the a club because of his turban. He was told he was breaching the club's no-head-wear policy.
"We tried to explain to club staff that the turban was part of our faith and not something I could take off… I don't know whether it's being racist or ignorance, but what they did left me shocked and insulted. I was embarrassed by the incident", informed the victim.
"But they said 'No, we have this policy and we are sticking to it,'" he said. "Instead of arguing we just left".
Responding to the charges, the Club manager Patricia Rangi said that the entire matter is related to going through the processes before the commission. The club's policy banned entry to all people with headgear, including those wearing them for religious reasons.
According to the President of the Manukau Indian Association, Mr. Veer Khar the club's rules were archaic and had no place in modern New Zealand. "On the club's part, it's a bit of ignorance, and I'd say they need to get more educated", says the President
This is not the first time this particular club has been embroiled in controversy. In 2009, as per the media reports, another turban-wearing Sikh was being denied entry when the club said his turban breached its no-headwear policy.
The complainant Mr. Singh said he was not aware of the earlier complaints, but had lodged complaints with the commission and the police because he wanted the club to change its "discriminatory" policy.
Mr. Singh has lodged a complaint of religious discrimination with the NZ Human Rights Commission. Even the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has also said that the Cosmopolitan Club's barring of Singh was "very disappointing".