Discrimination damages our image

There's a club in Auckland whose rules ban turban wearing Sikhs from the club. The reasoning is that it's part of setting standards for club members. Allow turbans and you'll have people wearing hoddies and balaclavas next. Perish the thought.

There's quite a bit of fuss about this and the overseas media are making quite a play of it. The effect of banning the wearing of turbans is that Sikhs can't become members or enter the club. Adult Sikhs wear turbans as part of their religion. Covering their heads is a fundamental part of their religious beliefs.

So the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club is telling Sikhs that they are barred. That's discrimination, and that's against the law (See http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10652054

The club says the decision was made by members in accordance with the club's constitutional processes. Well fine, you might say. But no. Members of a club cannot agree to break the law irrespective of what  constitutional processes are followed.

They cannot agree to allow illegal drugs to be sold on their premises, just because a majority of them are in favour of that. Nor can they change the terms of their liquor licence just because a majority think they'd like longer hours. .

And neither can they decide to ban a group of people because of their clothing. There is a legal term for it. The decision is ultra vires which is Latin for beyond their powers. The decision, despite its proper constitutional form, has no standing and could not be enforced because it is invalid and improper in the first place.

There have been a lot of claims lately that mining in some remote areas of our national parks would threaten our clean green image. That might be so, but lots of countries have mining of various kinds, and still have tourists. We have an even prouder reputation - at home and abroad - for being people who treat everyone on their merits. We don't discriminate on the basis of race, colour, creed, gender and sexual orientation.

And then a bunch of ignorant slobs from a two bit club in South Auckland decide to ban Sikhs and suddenly that's what is being reported in Indian media all over the world. We are trying to develop markets in India, and to sell our lamb, fish, education services, manufactured goods and a whole host of other products to Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians, Indonesians and other Asian countries as well as to lots of other non white consumers all around the world.

They aren't stupid. They read reports that we won't serve Sikhs and what do they think. They think; we have a choice. We don't have to buy anything from people who won't respect racial differences. Thanks Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club. You've done more damage to New Zealand than you realise, as well as making yourselves look like a bunch of ignorant, racist, yokels.

A final question: will our Human Rights Commission and Race Relations Conciliator do anything effective on the issue? I watch with interest.