Quebec is well on its way, not only toward a significant burqa ban, but just as importantly toward an effort to discriminate between “serious” and non-serious religious accommodation requests. The intellectual laziness and social irresponsibility of beliefs like Katha Pollitt’s – “[R]eligion is what people make of it.” – make the world safe for crushing restrictions against girls and women in otherwise advanced countries.
You don’t get to say that your religion mandates that your eleven year old daughter have her clitoris cut off and her vagina sewn up and her head and body covered in veils. You don’t get to say that your religion mandates your wife can’t leave the house – ever – or if she is allowed out, it’s only under guard and under total veiling. You don’t get to say that “due to my firm religious beliefs … it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women.” It’s perfectly okay for you to run your own cult in which you ban yourself from contact with the female race, but you don’t get to call this a religion, and you don’t get accommodations based on it.
You’re free to sue your daughter’s school because it won’t let you be on its grounds fully veiled. You will lose the suit, and it will cost you a lot of money and the court system a lot of time to get to that foreseeable outcome, but you’re free to do it.
But no state, and no institution within a state, is compelled to accommodate every demand made upon it simply because someone somewhere presents some behavior or other as religious.