December 11, 2009

NEW ZEALAND: Age Concern Protests Insult To Volunteer

. AUCKLAND / Manukau Courier / December 11, 2009 By Hannah Norton, Manukau Courier When Karnail Singh turned up to a lunch held to recognise his service to the community, he hardly expected to be asked to strip naked. TURBAN TROUBLE: Karnail Singh was refused entry to the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club because of his turban. Photo: Neil Duddy But that’s exactly what it felt like for him when staff at the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club demanded he remove his turban before entering the club. Mr Singh, a Sikh, was set to be acknowledged at the lunch for volunteers in Age Concern’s Accredited Visiting Service, which provides regular home visits to isolated older people. But while the other volunteers enjoyed their meal inside the club, Mr Singh was forced to go home because of the issue over his turban. Club staff told him the turban was "headwear" and wearing headwear in the club’s bar is against the club rules. He could wear the turban in the club’s function room but he would have to go through the bar to get to it. But Mr Singh says taking his turban off was out of the question – it’s a religious requirement that’s seen him wear it since he was six years old. He even wears a small one when he goes to bed. "This is not headwear – this is part of my religion," he says. Age Concern executive officer Wendy Bremner was horrified the club would not let Mr Singh enter a function where he was to be thanked for the contribution he makes to the community. She says Age Concern would not have booked the club if they’d known such an issue would arise. [rc] © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited