11/04/2013 09:14 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

West Australia Face Veil Law Mandates Women To Remove Veil To Authorities


West Australia passed a new law on Thursday mandating women wearing face-covering veils to remove them if asked by authorities.

The law originally also applied to head coverings and hijabs. However, after talks with Muslim and Sikh communities, the legislation was revised to only affect women who wear burqas or niqabs, which cover the face in addition to the head and hair, The Australian Associated Press reports.

The new law comes in the wake of a controversial case, in which a Muslim woman's conviction was overturned because her niqab called her identity into question. Carnita Matthews was sentenced to six months in prison in 2010 for falsely claiming that a police officer had tried to forcibly remove her face veil during a traffic stop. But Matthews won her appeal the following year when a judge ruled that it was impossible to determine whether she was the one who had made the complaint since a face veil obscured view of the complainant at the time.

West Australia's new law is similar to legislation approved in the Australian state of New South Wales last year forcing women to remove their niqabs when officials require so during the signing of certain official documents.