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Australia state lawmakers defeat bill to ban burqa

The Legislative Council of the Parliament of New South Wales [official website] on Thursday voted 26-3 to end further debate [minutes, PDF] on a bill to ban the wearing of the burqa [JURIST news archive] and other face veils in public. The bill [materials], proposed by Christian Democrat Fred Nile [official profile], would have banned the wearing of the burqa in Australia's most populous state. Nile insisted the bill was aimed at protecting [AAP report] women's rights and improving security. Opponents, however, contended the bill would stigmatize Muslims and argued that the issue is not one of great importance. The bill's introduction came after a national debate on the issue following comments made by a conservative national senator [AFP report] calling for a national ban on the burqa.

Many jurisdictions are currently considering legislation that would ban the burqa. On Wednesday, the French Cabinet approved legislation [JURIST report] that would ban the wearing of the burqa or other face veils in public. On Tuesday, hearings began [CBC report] in Quebec's legislature on a bill introduced in March that would ban women from wearing full face veils from public services. Earlier this month, European Parliament [official website] Vice President Silvana Koch-Mehrin [official website, in German] expressed her support for a continent-wide burqa ban [JURIST report]. In April, the Belgian House of Representatives voted 136-0 to approve [JURIST report] a bill that would ban the burqa and other full face veils in public.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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