Parliament calls on voters to reject Swiss-wide burka ban

Two Swiss cantons have already voted to ban full face-covering headgear. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Parliament has recommended that voters reject a popular initiative calling for a nationwide ban on face-covering headgear. Both chambers agree that it should be left to cantons to decide on the matter.

This content was published on June 17, 2020

On Wednesday the House of Representatives voted to back a counter-proposal drawn up by the government last year. This would continue with the status quo of cantons setting their own rules on burkas and niqabs but with the concession that people should be obliged to show their faces for identity checks across the country.

Two cantons, Ticino and St Gallen, have already voted to apply a ban on full face coverings.

Parliamentarians on Wednesday argued that existing laws were sufficient to protect women from being forced to cover their faces in public.

The initiative, backed by rightwing political parties, gathered enough votes in 2017 to trigger a referendum. Sponsors of the initiative argue that Switzerland should do more to combat “islamisation” and safeguard public security. 

The text of the initiative provides exemptions for reasons of safety, health, climate conditions and to abide by local customs.

No date has yet been set for the vote, but it is likely to take place next year.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Weekly top stories

Keep up to date with the best stories from SWI on a range of topics, straight into your mailbox.


The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.