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Quebec Could Stop Women Who Wear The Niqab From Taking The Bus

Quebec has tried to pass similar legislation before.

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Bill 62, Quebec's proposed religious neutrality legislation, will ban face coverings while giving or receiving any public service — which includes taking public transit.

Jacques Boissinot / The Canadian Press

Quebec's National Assembly could vote on Bill 62 as early as Tuesday. If passed, the legislation would ban religious face coverings like niqabs for all public servants, as well as those receiving public services.

Although Bill 62 initially only applied at the provincial level, recent amendments to the bill have widened its scope to include municipalities and even public transit bodies. That means women wearing the niqab would be barred from taking the metro or catching a city bus unless they removed the garment.

"As long as the service is being rendered, the face should be uncovered," Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée told CBC Radio this week.

Quebec governments have tried to pass similar legislation twice before.

Peter Mccabe / The Canadian Press

In 2010, the Liberal government of Jean Charest introduced Bill 94, which would have required people to uncover their faces to identify themselves before receiving any government services. The legislation died when the Liberals were defeated in the 2012 election.

In 2013, the Parti Quebecois government of Pauline Marois introduced a much stricter bill known as the Quebec Charter of Values, which banned public servants from wearing any "conspicuous" religious symbols including turbans, kippas, and hijabs. The Charter was widely denounced for targeting Muslim women, and it failed to become law before another election.

The current Liberal government's Bill 62 has been winding its way through the National Assembly for two years.

Minister Vallée told CBC Radio the bill wasn’t about targeting any religious minority, but was rather about having people’s faces visible, including protesters, for example.

“We’re talking about having the face uncovered," she said. "It’s not what is covering the face."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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