In a nearly unanimous vote yesterday, the French senate approved a law banning any veils that cover the face, making France the first European country to pass such a measure. The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes, reports CNN.
The law, which was overwhelmingly approved by France's lower parliament in July, passed by a vote of 246 to 1 and will go into effect next spring.
The original legislation came from a panel of French lawmakers who recommended a ban last year, and passed a non-binding resolution in May calling the full-face veil contrary to the laws of the nation. When enacted, the law will impose a fine of approximately $190 and/or a citizenship course for women wearing a niqab or a burqa. Additionally, any person forcing a woman to wear a full-face veil will face a year in prison or a $19,000 fine, said the French government.
In June of 2009, President Nicholas Sarkozy announced his opposition of full-face veils in a speech to a joint session of the French Parliament saying, "The burqa is not welcome in French territory...In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity." The speech was the first presidential address to the legislature in over a century.
Media Resources: CNN 9/14/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/24/10, 7/13/10
4/17/2014 Supreme Court of India Recognizes Transgender Rights - India's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that official documents must allow transgender people to identify as a third gender and directed the federal and state governments to include transgender people, known as hijras, in welfare programs such as education, health care, and job programs.
"All documents will now have a third category marked 'transgender,'" said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist who petitioned the court. . . .