Germany’s national parliament, the Bundestag, approved legislation Thursday evening banning Islamic full-face veils for public officials and soldiers.
The bill still needs to be approved by Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, before it becomes law.
In a statement accompanying the bill, Germany’s ruling coalition government said that a “religious or idealogical covering of the face contradicts the neutrality required of state functionaries.”
The document also requires women to show their face when their identity needs to be ascertained, during an ID check for instance.
If passed, the law would make Germany the fifth European country to ban or partially ban the wearing of the burqa and niqab, after France, Belgium, Netherlands and Bulgaria.
Austria and Norway are also in the process of implementing a ban.
Critics of the law in Germany say it is largely symbolic and believe the number of people actually affected by the ban will be relatively low.