Crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie insists her move to ban the burqa from public places has emboldened oppressed Muslim women previously afraid to speak out.
The upper house on Thursday debated the senator’s private bill banning full-face coverings in commonwealth jurisdictions such as airports, as well as the ACT and Northern Territory.
The bill would also make it an offence to force another person or child to wear a full face covering, punishable by imprisonment.
Senator Lambie insisted full face coverings made Australians fearful and the right to feel safe must outweigh the right for expression of religious freedom.
She said people hid their identity when they committed crimes.
She’s been told Muslim women have been emboldened by her proposed ban, and her public comments on Islam.
Thousands of women in Australia were oppressed and fearful, with lives full of abuse and control by men, Senator Lambie told Parliament.
“They are told what to wear and how to dress in public,” she said.
“They can’t speak out. They are voiceless.”
— Michael Koziol (@michaelkoziol) February 16, 2017
The ban is linked to the national terrorism threat level, kicking in when the terror threat reaches `probable’. Given the threat level is already at `probable’, it would start immediately.
Liberal frontbencher Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said while the burqa was “confronting at times”, she had rarely seen women wearing them in Australia.
“I have very rarely seen women whose faces are fully covered,” she said.
The most common head covering she had seen was the hijab, which leaves most of the face uncovered.
“Women have told me that they do so because it’s their choice,” she said.
“It’s what they feel they would like to wear as a demonstration of their beliefs.”