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.