Birmingham & Black Country

Wolverhampton gurdwara to remove screens separating worshippers

Members behind a screen Image copyright Express and Star
Image caption Dee Kaur, Wolverhampton Sikh Forum vice chairman Iqbal Kaur, Harbajan Singh, and his son, Malkit Singh, are pictured by a screen in 2015

Screens separating disabled people from other worshippers at a Sikh gurdwara in Wolverhampton will be removed after a court case was settled.

The five worshippers alleged they were segregated from the main prayer hall as they could not observe the custom of sitting cross-legged on the floor.

One woman said the screening felt like a "prison". Members accused the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara of discrimination.

A settlement was reached and the screens had already come down, the gurdwara said.

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The terms of the settlement were approved during a hearing at Birmingham County Court on Monday.

Image copyright Express and Star
Image caption A sign in the temple

Bosses of the gurdwara have agreed to remove all partitions within weeks and will install a lift to the first floor prayer room.

The five claimants included Bhupinder Kaur Chohan.

She said: "The screening was like you were in a prison. On one side you've done something wrong; people [will] catch what you've got. That's how we felt."

Malkit Singh, who has cerebral palsy, said the segregation had been "very hard" and had "upset" him.

Image caption Rajinder Singh Basi, chair of Sikh Forum Wolverhampton, described the result as a 'victory'

Rajinder Singh Basi, chair of Sikh Forum Wolverhampton, described the result as a "victory".

"Disabled people are not second class citizens and deserve enjoyment of the same right to worship and attend gurdwaras as everyone else," he said.

"Now the gurdwara must make changes and we look forward to them doing so," Mr Basi added.

A statement on behalf of the gurdwara said: "In reaching this amicable settlement, the gurdwara would want to send the message that all are welcome with open hands and that the gurdwara would continue to address the needs of the aged, frail and the disabled in accordance with the guidance provided by Sikh Council UK."

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