The Barcelona city council [official website, in Catalan] on Monday announced the banning of all face coverings, including the burqa [JURIST news archive], in public areas administered by the city. Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu indicated that the ban was put in place out of a concern for public safety [El Pais report, in Spanish], and was not aimed at any particular religious group. He contends that it is common sense to require people entering public buildings to show their faces, and that someone wearing a motorcycle helmet will be required to follow the same regulations as someone wearing a scarf for religious purposes. The ban will affect public buildings as well as schools and market districts. Barcelona is the first major city in Spain to ban face coverings in municipal areas, although several smaller cities have already imposed or are considering similar restrictions [AFP report]. No announcement was made as to when the new regulations would go into effect.
Many jurisdictions continue to consider legislation banning the burqa. Last month, Australian state lawmakers voted to end debate [JURIST report] on a bill that would have banned the wearing of the burqa or other face veils in public. Also last month, the French Cabinet approved legislation [JURIST report] that would ban the wearing of the burqa or other face veils in public. The same week the French Cabinet voted, 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 last 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.