Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today congratulated the local Sikh community on winning their long running battle to obtain an exemption from wearing a bicycle helmet due to their religious beliefs.

Mr Pitt said he had met with members of the Sikh community on numerous occasions to discuss their concerns about bike helmet legislation.

“The turban is an inseparable part of a Sikh’s attire and the current legislation impeded on their right to practice their religion,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Sikh community are well respected for their compliance with the laws of the land but in this case those wearing traditional head dress found the law to be in conflict with their religious beliefs.

“The wearing of a helmet over their turbans is impractical, and the need to carry and renew a permit to practice one’s religion was also not acceptable

“In November 2001 my father Warren Pitt appealed to the Premier and the government offered a compromise by allowing exemptions under certain circumstances – however this later stopped when the road rules were overhauled.

“Last year I wrote to Transport Minister Scott Emerson calling for the legislation to be reviewed, however at the time he declined.

“More recently I was presented with 123 letters in Innisfail from local Sikh’s calling for an end to the discriminatory legislation.

“That coupled with a high profile Brisbane court case seems to have tipped the balance and I welcome the decision today by Minister Emerson to grant helmet exemptions on religious grounds.

“This is a common sense decision which means Sikh’s and members of other religions will not have to break the law if they ride a bike while wearing a headdress as a part of their religious identity.

“The road rule amendments will bring Queensland in line with Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia which also have exemptions.

“I understand that the exemption will take effect later this year and that individuals will not need to make an application to be exempt – however only cyclists with genuine religious beliefs will be excused.”