Cabinet rejects headscarf ban in passport photos

The face must be completely visible for Swiss passport photos Keystone

This content was published on September 4, 2014 - 14:58 and agencies

The Swiss cabinet has advised parliament not to adopt a motion from a rightwing parliamentarian to ban women from wearing headscarves in their passport photos.

Oskar Freysinger of the Swiss People’s Party called for the current passport laws to be changed to forbid headscarves in passport photos. Currently, women in Switzerland are allowed to wear head coverings in passport photos for religious and medical reasons.

In response, the cabinet wrote on Thursday that although the current passport photo regulations state that a person’s face must be completely visible, headscarves worn for religious purposes do not interfere with that requirement as long as they do not cover the face. Therefore, the seven-member body found that a ban on headscarves in passport photos is not necessary.

Swiss rules are in line with those in neighbouring countries, says the cabinet, and have not led to any problems so far. They also argue Freysinger’s motion would restrict religious freedom.

Freysinger, however, calls the current passport photo policy “shockingly unequal”, since head coverings are generally not allowed for passport photos except on religious and medical grounds. He argues that this exception to the rule does not help women integrate into Swiss society.

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