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Sikh army captain now allowed to keep turban and beard on duty

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Captain Simratpal Singh will no longer have to shave his beard and cut his hair Image source: nbcnews.com

A Sikh army captain who sued the U.S. military for discrimination in March has won the right to continue serving on active duty while upholding his religiously mandated turban and beard.

The U.S. Army released its decision on Thursday to grant Captain Simratpal Singh “religious accommodation” to the rules against facial hair and headwear, adding that “the Army intends to gather information to develop uniform standards for religious accommodations.”

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Singh, a West Point graduate who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, said in a press release. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

After years of cutting his hair and shaving his face, Singh was finally granted a temporary accommodation in December. Assistant Army Secretary Debra Wada ordered tests in March to determine whether Singh could safely wear a helmet and gas mask if he had a turban, uncut hair and a beard.

Thursday’s decision by the Army states that Singh will not have to reapply for accommodation in the future.

“In a political context where minorities are being marginalized and attacked routinely, it is critical that our nation’s largest institutions and employers — like the U.S. military — show the country that America embraces diversity,” Simran Jeet Singh, the Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, told The Huffington Post.

He added, though, that this decision is just one step toward ending the discriminatory policies regarding article of faith for service members.

In 2014, the U.S. military began taking steps to give individual troops greater freedom to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms. A spokesman for the Sikh Coalition noted at the time that the religious accommodation would have to be approved each time a service member changed assignments and would default to the discretion of their commanders.

Just two day’s before the Army released its decision on Singh’s case, three other Sikh soldiers filed a lawsuit seeking similar accommodations from the Army. With Singh’s victory and the Army’s promise to “develop uniform standards,” there may be hope for others in a similar predicament.

Credits: Huffington post

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Sikh Man Wears Rainbow Turban for Pride Month

Pride Month kicked off on June 1 and honours the LGBTQ community while commemorating New York's Stonewall riots in June 1969

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"We have over 50 companies, who are very interested in hiring from the LGBTI talent pool," Sinha said. Pixabay

Jiwandeep Kohli, a San Diego-based neuroscientist who is bisexual and a Sikh, is ringing in this years Pride Month with a rainbow turban that has gone viral on social media.

Sharing an image of the elaborate creation on Twitter that has received nearly 30,000 likes, Kohli, who was also a former contestant on “The Great American Baking Show”, celebrated what makes him unique, reports The Huffington Post.

“I’m proud to be a bisexual bearded baking brain scientist,” he captioned the image. “I feel fortunate to be able to express all these aspects of my identity and will continue to work towards ensuring the same freedom for others.”

Pride Month kicked off on June 1 and honours the LGBTQ community while commemorating New York’s Stonewall riots in June 1969 that signalled a turning point in the movement for equal rights.

Sikh, Man, Rainbow, Turban
Jiwandeep Kohli, a San Diego-based neuroscientist who is bisexual and a Sikh, is ringing in this years Pride Month. Pixabay

In an interview to Buzzfeed News, Kohli said: “A few years ago I saw a photo of another Sikh man at a pride parade who had a few colours in his turban.

“I was looking at that and I realized the way I tie mine, it had the exact right number of layers to make a rainbow.”

He wore his rainbow turban to the San Diego Pride last year, but reshared it on Twitter for this year’s Pride Month.

There were a few people asking where they can get their own rainbow turban. Kohli in response, said he wanted them to know that turbans were a responsibility for Sikhs and it’s not the same as throwing on a rainbow hat.

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“I wouldn’t want people to have the impression that I’m just wearing it as an accessory,” he said. “A turban is a sign to the world that you’re a person the world can turn to for help.”

Kohli also runs a website called “Bearded Baker Co”, where he showcases his culinary prowess along with recipes for those who want to give his food a try. (IANS)