Delegates from the Sikh Federation in the West Midlands were not allowed to enter the European Parliament because they were wearing kirpans it has been claimed.

LibDem Euro-MP Liz Lynne was supposed to welcome a delegation from the Sikh Federation to the Parliament, but it finished as a protest outside the building when, for the third year running, delegates were not allowed to enter.

This was allegedly because some were wearing the kirpan (a Sikh ceremonial dagger), but delegates not wearing it were also denied entrance to Parliament.

Liz Lynne MEP, Vice-President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and member of the Human Rights Subcommittee, joined the protest with other MEPs and said, "This decision is outrageous. In the UK the right to wear the kirpan is enshrined in law, as it should be across the EU.

"Sikhs have made an outstanding contribution to the wealth and diversity of society in the West Midlands and elsewhere across Europe, and to treat EU citizens in this way is totally unjustified.

"I wrote last week to President Pöttering of the European Parliament hoping to ensure entrance for my constituents but to no avail. I now hope to lead a cross party campaign on this issue to ensure this discrimination cannot be allowed to continue here or anywhere else.

"The Sikh faith should be recognised throughout the EU, kirpans are widely regarded as a religious symbol, not a threat, and to refuse entry to those wearing them is discrimination pure and simple."

On the role of the EU's anti-discrimination legislation in combating discrimination faced by Sikh's in the workplace, Liz added: "If we are to remove discrimination from all places of work across the EU, including this Parliament, we need to ensure the 2000 Employment Directive is properly implemented across Europe, something which many Member States have failed to do. I hope anyone who feels they have been discriminated against in the workplace finds the courage and support they need to take further action."