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Varieties of hair could be protected by law in France

Robert Besser
2 Apr 2024

PARIS, France: On Thursday, lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament approved a bill banning discrimination over the texture, length, color, or style of a person's hair.

The bill's authors said the bill will send a message of support to Black people and others who have faced discrimination in the workplace and other areas of life due to their hair.

While only 50 of the National Assembly's 577 lawmakers voted, they overwhelmingly backed the bill with 44-2, with four abstentions. The bill's supporters celebrated outside parliament.

The bill, which echoes similar legislation in more than 20 US states, was proposed by Olivier Serva, a French lawmaker from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

If it eventually becomes law, it will make France the first country in the world to recognize discrimination based on hair, Serva stressed.

"This is a great step forward for our country. France has done itself proud," he said.

Existing anti-discrimination measures in the labor code and criminal code to explicitly outlaw discrimination against people with curly and coiled hair or other hairstyles perceived as unprofessional, as well as bald people, will be amended by the bill.

However, it does not specifically apply to race-based discrimination, even though that was its primary aim.

"People who do not fit in Eurocentric standards are facing discrimination, stereotypes and bias," Serva said.

Support from leftist parties and members of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist party Renaissance was enough to help the bill through the National Assembly.

The bill will now head to the conservative-dominated Senate, where it will likely face opposition from right-wing lawmakers, who consider this bill to be an effort to import US concepts about race and racial discrimination to France.

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