The Swiss government has proposed an indirect counterproposal to an initiative calling for a nationwide ban on face-covering headgear: forcing another person to wear a burka or niqab should be made illegal.
On Wednesday, the Federal Council recommended that voters reject the so-called “burka ban” initiative, which was handed in with enough signatures by its promotors, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, in September. No date has yet been set for the vote.
The initiative wants face-covering headgear to be banned in public places all over Switzerland apart from a few exceptions, such as for health reasons.
National restrictions are only appropriate to prevent coercion of women or if people are in contact with certain authorities, such as migration officials, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. It is up to cantons to decide on how they regulate people in public spaces, she added.
Ticino is the only canton so far to introduce a total face-covering ban in public places. St Gallen has a less restrictive form of ban, but voters have rejected the idea in Zurich, Solothurn, Schwyz, Basel City and Glarus. Valais lawmakers recently outlawed a cantonal vote on the wearing of headgear on the grounds that it would violate the constitution.