Those wearing Burqas or niqabs aren't allowed in all public galleries
Those wearing Burqas or niqabs aren't allowed in all public galleries

Burqas in parliament restricted to glass gallery

MUSLIM women will be able to visit Parliament House while wearing a burqa or niqab, but they will be forced to sit in a glass-enclosed public gallery to watch the proceedings.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry on Thursday approved new rules governing the wearing of "facial coverings" inside the nation's parliament.

The rules, released by the Department of Parliamentary Services, said the new rules would "ensure that persons with facial coverings can continue to enter the Chamber galleries, without needing to be identifiable".

While the rules do not explicitly state what will or will not be considered a "facial covering", it is understood the common hijab, which covers only the hair and neck, will be allowed into other public galleries.

The glass-enclosed public galleries are usually reserved for school groups, and are sealed so people inside them cannot directly intervene in parliament's proceedings, whereas other galleries are open.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne labelled the new rules "appalling" and said they would be put in an area where "parliamentarians don't have to hear them".

Sen Parry said the added "management measure" was being put in place in case someone needed to be identified and removed from the public gallery.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie also labelled the move a form of "religious apartheid" and said it had "no security merit at all".

- APN NEWSDESK


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