Victorian judge bans niqab in court’s public gallery

Source: The Guardian

By 

A Victorian judge has banned a woman whose husband is facing terrorism charges from wearing a niqab in court, saying it posed a potential security risk.

The woman applied through her husband’s lawyers to wear the face veil, which she said was a “a fundamental way in which she observes her faith”, while sitting in the public gallery to support him through the six-week trial.

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She said she had been permitted to wear the niqab during a committal hearing in the magistrates court and was willing to show her face to security guards manning the metal detector and weapons check at the court entrance to verify her identity.

But the supreme court judge Christopher Beale said the risk of a mistrial or other incident caused by “misbehaving” in the public gallery would be heightened if a person could not be instantly identified because their face was covered, and ruled that the risk outweighed the infringement upon the woman’s right to freedom of religious expression.

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