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Parliament of Australia lifted ban on facial coverings in Public areas

Parliament of Australia on 19 October 2014 lifted ban on facial coverings including burqas and niqabs in Public areas.

Oct 22, 2014 18:55 IST
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Parliament of Australia on 19 October 2014 lifted ban on facial coverings including burqas and niqabs in Public areas.

However, the face coverings would have to be removed temporarily at the front door so that staff could identify any person who may have been banned from entering Parliament House or who may be known, or discovered, to be a security risk.

The ban was lifted after Prime Minister Tony Abbott intervened following wide-scale condemnation of the decision of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS). The decision of the DPS was criticised as a segregation of Muslim women and a potential breach of anti-discrimination laws.

Earlier in the first week of October 2014, DPS had announced that persons with facial coverings would no longer be allowed in the open public galleries. Instead, they were to be directed to galleries usually reserved for noisy schoolchildren where they could sit behind soundproof glass.

The Controversy

The controversy came as the government attempts to assure Australia's Muslim minority that new counterterrorism laws and police raids on terror suspects' homes in recent months were directed at countering criminal activity, not any particular religion.

The restriction was authorized by Bishop, who has campaigned for a ban on Muslim head scarves in schools, as well as Senate President Stephen Parry.

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