B.C. judge rules 'Pastafarian's' treatment by ICBC not discrimination | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. judge rules 'Pastafarian's' treatment by ICBC not discrimination

A West Kootenay member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who was not allowed to wear a pirate's hat in his B.C. driver's licence photo, has failed to prove that he was a victim of religious discrimination. In a Feb. 26 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Gordon C. Weatherill ruled that while Pastafarian Gary Lee Junior Smith had offered an "intellectual and thought-provoking insight into the complexities of religions" he still hadn't proved that his Charter rights had been violated.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Gary Smith
March 01, 2021 - 2:20 PM

A West Kootenay member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who was not allowed to wear a pirate's hat in his B.C. driver's licence photo, has failed to prove that he was a victim of religious discrimination.

In a Feb. 26 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Gordon C. Weatherill ruled that while Pastafarian Gary Lee Junior Smith had offered an "intellectual and thought-provoking insight into the complexities of religions" he still hadn't proved that his Charter rights had been violated.

The case focuses on ICBC's refusal to renew Smith's driving licence because he was wearing a pirate’s tricorn hat in his driving licence photo.

While known for wearing pasta colanders on their heads, the decision says members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, known as Pastafarians, also wear pirate hats.

According to the decision, Smith had worn a pirate hat when applying for a licence in Trail in August 2019, and had been given a temporary licence pending the issue of a permanent one.

However, ICBC’s Driver Licensing Integrity and Oversight Unit then wrote to him saying he wouldn't be issuing a permanent licence because of the pirate's hat he was wearing in his photograph.

Smith then launched a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint.

"My religious head covering is an expression of my beliefs. In being denied the ability to wear it for government-issued identification, I am being denied the right to express myself in a manner afforded to members of other beliefs and other faiths, as afforded to citizens under... the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Smith said in his Tribunal filing. "As Pastafarians have been seeking to be photographed with their headgear on numerous occasions since 2014… this entire matter seems to be a glaring case of institutional discrimination utterly without merit... ICBC has no cause to question personal religious beliefs or make judgements."

However, the Tribunal refused to hear his case.

"You are a Pastafarian and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster which mocks religious beliefs and certain religious practices," the Tribunal ruled.

The Tribunal said that while the B.C. Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion it does not include those "satirizing religious practice."

Smith then took his case to the B.C Supreme Court asking the Justice to reopen his Human Rights Tribunal file.

The Pastafarian argued the Tribunal's refusal to look at his case was "bias" and discriminatory, and that its "false assumption" that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster mocks religious beliefs was "insulting" and inaccurate.

Smith also included copies of his B.C. Marriage Commissioner licence and federal Firearms Possession and Acquisition licence in which he's wearing a pirate hat.

The Pastafarian also offered a theological argument talking in part about the atrocities committed throughout history by the followers of the world's major religions.

"It may be considered high time that a religion that values humour, self-deprecation and silliness is the vessel sailing to calmer seas," the decision reads.

However, while Justice Weatherill says Smith's argument is intellectual and thought-provoking it also supports the fact Pastafarian's religious practices are, "at least in part, satirical", which was the very reason the Human Rights Tribunal refused to look at his case.

The Justice also noted that the Canadian courts have previously ruled the practices of Pastafarians were satirical.

Ultimately, the Justice dismisses Smith's case.


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