A COLANDER-WEARING musician has accused the DVLA of discrimination after a driving licence photo of him wearing religious headgear was rejected.
Ian Harris has mounted a third appeal against the government body after it refused to accept the picture of him wearing the bowl-shaped utensil when he renewed his licence.
The 51-year-old from Hove belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – also known as Pastafarianism – which sees colanders as sacred headgear.
The faith promotes a light-hearted view of religion, although critics claim it is a parody movement.
Mr Harris said: “Who are they to decide which religions are true or valid? Our religion is a minority but the DVLA is discriminating because it allows people who practice major religions to wear headgear in pictures.
“The letters implied the picture would damage the DVLA’s credibility because the religion has a comic element to it which I found insulting.
“Other church members have been very supportive of my complaint and have said the headgear is allowed in photos in other countries.”
In letters seen by The Argus, the DVLA said: “Unfortunately the decision remains the same and you will be required to make a new application for a licence with an appropriate photo.
“You will appreciate that we must work within a framework set by law and the decisions have to be in line with the legislation. Therefore, we may not always be able to meet your expectations.”
Banjo-playing Mr Harris – a member of Brighton band The Iron Boot Scrapers – said he had no intention of giving up driving or submitting a new picture.
He said: “I will continue to fight the good fight for our savoury Lord. I have checked and their guidelines do not say I cannot wear my colander.”
A DVLA spokesman said guidelines on photographs were the same as those of Her Majesty’s Passport Office and declined to comment on the complaint.
The Iron Boot Scrapers perform popular hits with folk, brass and percussion instruments and boast clients including the British and Dubai royal families including the Queen, EastEnders, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Harry Enfield, Cilla Black, Richard E Grant and Richard Branson.
The band’s next performance is part of the Brighton Fringe at Coalition, King’s Road Arches, tomorrow from 8pm.
- The Government has guidelines for passport and driving licence photographs. The Drive and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) said it requires a photograph that meets specified criteria to “ensure the photograph that is captured and scanned on to both the driver record and photocard is of a consistent standard.” The body said photograph must be “clear and be a current likeness to allow the police to link the driver to driving entitlement held without confusion or ambiguity. Headgear is generally not acceptable, but may be permissible on religious or medical grounds and any exemptions are dealt with on a case by case basis.” For full photograph criteria click here
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ‘attracts millions’
ACCORDING to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s website, the religion has existed in secrecy for hundreds of years.
It states it only recently came into the mainstream in May 2005.
With “millions, if not thousands” of devout worshippers, the Church of the FSM say it is widely considered a legitimate religion – even by its opponents.
A statement on the website goes on to say: “The Church of FSM is real, totally legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humour or satire is purely coincidental.”
The devoutly-held beliefs of the religion include pirates, beer and that Friday is a religious holiday.