Pastafarian Gary Smith, pictured here dressed as a pirate, wanted to wear his tricorn (also pictured here) in his driver’s licence photo, arguing that the display was a religious observance. Photo: Facebook

Pastafarian Gary Smith, pictured here dressed as a pirate, wanted to wear his tricorn (also pictured here) in his driver’s licence photo, arguing that the display was a religious observance. Photo: Facebook

B.C. Pastafarian loses Supreme Court fight to wear pirate hat in driver’s licence photo

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith put his case to the Supreme Court in Rossland early last month

A West Kootenay man, who claims to be a Pastafarian, recently lost his Supreme Court battle to wear a pirate hat in his driver’s licence photo.

READ MORE: Vote Gary Smith for Grand Forks city council

Gary Smith of Grand Forks identifies as “a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” whose followers wear pasta colanders and pirate hats as a sign of their faith in the noodle divinity, according to the judge’s decision.

Representing himself in court last month, Smith asked a Rossland judge to review the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal’s refusal to register his complaint against ICBC, whose Driver Licensing Integrity and Oversight Unit decided not to renew his licence because it bore a picture of him wearing a pirate’s tricorn (as in, three-corner) hat.

In September 2019 letter to Smith, ICBC stated it based its decision on the fact that his head was covered.

Smith countered that his hat was a religious head covering through which he meant to express his beliefs.

Petitioning the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal months later, Smith wrote that, “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.”

But, Justice Gordon C. Weatherill refused to grant Smith’s petition for a judicial review.

While Weatherill found that Smith’s arguments made for stimulating intellectual fare, he upheld the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal finding that Smith’s complaint was “at least in part, satirical,” and that he had not suffered a provable violation according to the tribunal’s Human Rights Code.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@boundarycreektimes.com

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