Canada’s Quebec province passed a religious neutrality law on Wednesday, effectively banning the burqa and the niqab when giving or receiving a public service – such as using public transport or studying in a public university.

The controversial law, without any mention of Muslim face veils, bars citizens from wearing face coverings when they interact with the state. Municipal and public transit services constitute the list of public services.

Quebec’s National Assembly passed the Bill by a 66-51 vote. The Bill was tabled two years ago.

The new law allows people to request exemptions, such as if one wears a face veil, but the request can be refused if “warranted in the context for security or identification reasons or because of the level of communication required”, BBC reported.

The ban will go into effect immediately, though it is not clear how public agencies should respond to individuals who approach them with covered faces, Al Jazeera reported.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims criticised the law, and said it infringes religious freedom. It called it “ugly identity politics”, “dangerous political agenda” and “bigoted populism”.