UK: New weapon act allows Sikhs to carry 'kirpans'
New Delhi : A new offensive Weapons Bill aimed to bar rising knife crimes in the United Kingdom completed its journey through the parliament to become an act of law after receiving the Royal Assent of Queen Elizabeth II this week.
The bill was amended last year with a clause allowing Sikhs to carry kirpans.
"We have engaged closely with the Sikh community on the issue of kirpans. As a result, we have amended the Bill to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue," a UK Home Office spokesperson said.
The APPG for British Sikhs led the fight to ensure that kirpans remain exempted from the bill in UK.
"I am pleased to see the government amendment...which reflects the importance of not criminalising the Sikh community for the sale or possession of large kirpans," said Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.
However, the new bill will ensure the safe sale, possession and use of large kirpans.
Large kirpans, with blades over 50-cm, are used by the community during religious ceremonies in gurudwaras as well as for ceremonies involving the traditional Sikh Gatka martial art. They would have fallen foul of the new bill on the possession of large blades without the amendment, which has now been agreed.