ICBC fight of BC man to wear pirate hat on photo ID continues

Gary Smith, leader of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in British Columbia, wants to wear a pirate hat in his driver’s license photo. ICBC deemed the headgear “unacceptable”.

BC’s leader of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster continues to battle ICBC in its attempt to wear a pirate hat for a driver’s license photo.

Gary Smith of Grand Forks, also known as the captain of the church, says his pirate hat is part of his church’s religious headgear.

Smith identifies as a Pastafarian and a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Members have been known to wear either a pasta strainer or a three-cornered hat known as a pirate tricorn on their heads.

Smith says ICBC should allow the photo request just as it already did for his marriage commissioner ID and for his firearms acquisition license.

“I will let you know that as Captain of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of British Columbia, a religious organization legally incorporated under the Society Act of British Columbia, I have successfully defended the right to wear a religious head covering in accordance with my beliefs. on three other occasions,” Smith said in an April 4 email to ICBC Fair Practices Manager Debby Raffard.

“Ahoy, Debbie,” Smith greeted her in the missive.

Smith had already received a letter from ICBC saying the pirate hat was unacceptable.

“The headgear you were wearing on February 17, 2022, which is the same brown tricorn hat you have worn on previous occasions for driver’s license photo applications, has again been deemed unacceptable for printing on a BC driver’s license, BC ID or BC Services Card,” wrote Mario Bourdages, Driver License Integrity and Monitoring Manager at ICBC.

Bourdages wrote on Feb. 18 that ICBC “is working to accommodate customers whose faith prohibits them from removing headgear for photo identification purposes.”

“We do not recognize you as a member of a religious group that requires accommodation as part of a service customarily provided to the public under the BC Human Rights Code,” Bourdage wrote.

However, Smith wonders what enables the government to decide which set of religious beliefs require accommodation and which do not.

“What qualifications grant ICBC the ability to weigh the merits of any faith? Hubris! Smith said.

“The sheer arrogance of only wanting to make accommodations if required under the Human Rights Code is shockingly audacious.

“At the end of the day, it’s up to us to figure out what ICBC is trying to protect by denying me and my teammates the accommodations we seek,” Smith said.

And it’s not just ICBC Smith who finds himself at odds with it. He also tried to wear his pirate hat for a security guard ID card.

“I vehemently reaffirm my right to be represented in a manner consistent with my beliefs,” he said in a March letter to the relevant authorities.

Smith has already had a skirmish with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

In a complaint, Smith said members of other faiths — such as Sikhs — are allowed to wear headgear in licensed photos.

“There is no test of faith that any government agency, including ICBC, can apply to judge whether or not a person sincerely believes what they are professing when they ask to be photographed wearing a head covering. religious,” Smith told the court.

So what relief was he looking for?

“That ICBC permit qualified citizens who identify themselves as Pastafarians or members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to wear religious headgear of any form and type of their choice, so long as such headgear chef does not interfere with (facial recognition technology), for the purposes of obtaining a driver’s license and a BC Services Card, or both.

However, the court dismissed the suit, saying Smith was insincere.

“You are a Pastafarian and a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster who mocks religious beliefs and certain religious practices,” the March 2020 ruling said.

“While the protection against discrimination based on religion in the [Human Rights] The code includes protection for the expression of non-belief and refusal to participate in religious practice, the protection does not require the accommodation of a practice that satirizes religious practice by providing a customarily accessible service to the public,” the decision reads. “It would not serve the purposes of the code to file a complaint in these circumstances.”

Smith took that decision to court for judicial review where, in 2021, Judge Gordon Weatherill noted that Smith admitted some of his arguments were satirical.

Weatherill denied the request for review, saying the code had not been violated.

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