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UK Parliament to consider bill banning face veils

A British MP on Thursday introduced legislation in the House of Commons [official website] that would ban the wearing of burqas [JURIST news archive] or other face coverings in public. The Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill [materials] was introduced by MP Philip Hollobone [official website] in order to regulate the covering of the face in public and, if passed, would prohibit the wearing of both the burqa and the niqab. Hollobone has been outspoken [BBC report] about the wearing of the burqa, indicating that it goes against British values. He also suggested that no one should be allowed to conceal their identity from the public. The bill is scheduled for a second reading in December and would then proceed to the committee phase of the legislative process. Due to the parliamentary process used by the UK, the bill is unlikely to progress beyond the reading phase. Hollobone was selected as part of a random process allowing individual MPs to introduce legislation for consideration. He was selected late in the process, which would decrease the chance that his legislation would move forward.

Many European jurisdictions continue to consider legislation banning the burqa. Last month, the Spanish Senate [official website] approved a motion [press release, in Spanish; JURIST report] calling on the Spanish government to ban the use of full face veils in public places. Also last month, the Barcelona city council [official website, in Catalan] passed a ban [JURIST report] on face coverings in all public places. In May, the French Cabinet approved legislation [JURIST report] that would ban the wearing of the burqa or other face veils in public. Also in May, 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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