Covernance or Women’s Rights. How Much Room for the Gender Equality Argument In The Swiss Headscarf Debate?
Abstract: Covernance o diritti delle donne. Quanto spazio per la parità di genere nel dibattito svizzero sul velo Islamico? – With the popular initiative “Sì al divieto di dissimulare il proprio viso”, in March 2021 a national ban on full-face coverings has been adopted in Switzerland. Prior to this, similar bans already existed in Ticino and San Gallo Cantons. Among the many arguments in their support, stands gender equality. The article explores if and how this argument has been employed in the Swiss headscarf legislative and jurisprudential debate. By considering both the relevant parliamentary debates and the case-law of the Swiss Federal Tribunal, it concludes that, so far, gender equality has never played a truly diriment role in the appreciation of the ban. Thus, the article finally suggests that, if challenged with a proper complaint, there is room for the Swiss judge, in a given case, to declare the ban contrary to the gender equality principle, and this under a harmonised interpretation of the Constitution and/or an interpretation consistent with the CEDAW.
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