[JURIST] Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies [official website, in Spanish], on Tuesday rejected [press release, in Spanish] a proposal [text, in Spanish; PDF] to ban the burqa [JURIST news archive] and other full face veils, by a vote of 183 to 162 with 2 abstaining. In June, the Senate [official website, in Spanish] approved a motion [JURIST report] calling on the Spanish government to ban the use of full face veils in public places. The Spanish opposition Popular Party (PP) [party website, in Spanish], which put forth the non-binding proposition [El Pais report, in Spanish], claimed that it represented a positive step towards equality for women [AFP report]. The leading Socialist Party [party website, in Spanish] opposed the measure out of concern that regulation of the burqa could lead to regulation [El Pais report, in Spanish] of other religious symbols. Justice Minister Francisco Caamano [official profile, in Spanish] indicated that the Spanish government plans to introduce legislation [JURIST report] banning the burqa in government buildings as part of Spain’s Religious Freedom Bill, which is to be debated in the fall.
Many international jurisdictions are currently debating legislation that would ban full-face scarves and the burqa. On Sunday, Syrian Minister of Education [official website, in Arabic] Ghiath Barakat issued a directive [JURIST report] forbidding university students and teachers from wearing the niqab. UK Immigration Minister Damian Green [official profile] indicated last week that Britain’s coalition government would not seek or support a British law banning [JURIST report] the wearing of the Islamic burqa or other face coverings in public. Last Tuesday, the French National Assembly [official website, in French] voted [JURIST report] to give police the authority to require women wearing the veils to show their face and make it a crime to force a woman to cover her face. Similar legislation is also being considered in Belgium, where, in April, the Belgian House of Representatives voted to approve [JURIST report] a bill that would ban the burqa and other full-face veils in public. In June, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) [official website] voted unanimously to reject [JURIST report] any general prohibition on the wearing of the burqa or other religious clothing.