07 September 2018

Cantonal initiative to ban headgear in schools ruled invalid

The Federal Court says that an initiative by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to ban head coverings in schools in the southern canton of Valais is invalid. It confirms the decision taken by the Valais parliament.

The People’s Party proposal had attracted more than 4,000 backers after its launch in 2016. This amount of backing automatically triggers a vote, according to Swiss law. After its rejection by the cantonal parliament in December 2017, the party took the issue to the Federal Courtexternal link in Lausanne, Switzerland’s highest instance.

In a rulingexternal link made public on Friday, the Federal Court said that an initiative should not go against cantonal, national or international law.

The court said that even if the initiative’s wording was vague – it calls for a ban on headgear such as hats, helmets and scarves – the implicit meaning was clear: it was meant to ban wearing veils or headscarves. This was clear from the poster campaign during signature collection for the initiative, which featured a picture of a woman wearing a veil and the slogan “no to headscarves in schools”. The press release at the beginning of the campaign also dealt with this issue. [swissinfo.ch] Read more