Menu Close

Switzerland passes controversial law banning face coverings

The Swiss National Council approved the controversial Federal Law on the Prohibition of Concealing the Face Wednesday by a vote of 151-29.

The law implements a referendum passed in March 2021, in which 51% of Swiss voters approved a ban on concealing one’s face in public. The initiative was brought by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party and aims to prohibit hiding one’s face in all public places or private spaces accessible to the public. Offenders face a fine of up to 1,000 Swiss francs.

Exceptions are made for places of worship, health reasons, local customs, art, entertainment and advertising. Authorities can also grant exemptions for demonstrations if necessary to protect freedom of opinion and assembly, provided public order is maintained. The law does not apply on aircraft or diplomatic premises. The ban encompasses concealing the eyes, nose and mouth in a way that makes a person unrecognizable. Head coverings like hijabs that leave the face visible are not affected.

The Federal Council originally proposed anchoring the ban in the Criminal Code but later drafted it as a standalone federal law after receiving criticism. Marianne Binder-Keller, a member of the National Council, said that this approach focuses more on public safety than punishment.

The new legislation has raised significant controversy. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized the ban as “deeply regrettable,” stating it was approved after a “political publicity campaign with strong xenophobic undertones.”

The final decision on the law’s enforcement lies with the cantons, and the Federal Council will set the date for the law’s implementation. Switzerland joins several other European countries like France, Belgium and Austria that have implemented similar laws against full facial coverings in recent years.

Article: Switzerland passes controversial law banning face coverings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *