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France’s National Assembly Passes Bill to Ban Discrimination Based on Hair

Paris, March 28, 2024, The Europe Today: In a significant move toward promoting equality and combatting discrimination, France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved a groundbreaking bill on Thursday aimed at prohibiting discrimination based on hair and hairstyle. Championed by Olivier Serva, a Black member of parliament representing the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the bill seeks to address instances of discrimination faced by individuals due to their hair choices.

Serva, who drafted the bill, emphasized its importance in providing recourse to victims of such discrimination and amplifying their voices. Notably, the bill encompasses protections for individuals of all hair types, including blondes, redheads, and bald individuals, reflecting a comprehensive approach to combating prejudice in all its forms.

Citing alarming statistics from an American study, Serva highlighted the widespread impact of hair-based discrimination, particularly among Black women, many of whom reported being unfairly judged in job interviews based on their hairstyle choices. The bill aims to address such injustices and promote inclusivity in all facets of society.

During the parliamentary debate, lawmaker Fanta Berete shared her personal experiences of facing pressure to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards in job interviews, underscoring the pervasive nature of hair-related discrimination.

The bill, which garnered overwhelming support in the National Assembly, was approved by 44 legislators against only two. While some members abstained from voting, the bill’s passage marks a significant milestone in France’s ongoing efforts to combat discrimination and promote diversity.

However, critics of the bill argue that existing laws already prohibit discrimination based on appearance, rendering the proposed legislation unnecessary. Eric Rocheblave, a lawyer specializing in labor law, contends that while the bill may have symbolic value, its practical impact in addressing discrimination in court proceedings remains uncertain.

The bill will now proceed to the French Senate for further consideration. With conservatives holding a majority in the Senate, the outcome of the vote remains uncertain, underscoring the challenges ahead in advancing comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.

Similar initiatives have gained traction internationally, with around 20 US states already enacting laws to combat hair discrimination as a manifestation of racism. In Britain, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines to address hair discrimination in educational settings.

As France continues its legislative journey toward promoting equality and inclusivity, the passage of this bill represents a significant step forward in fostering a more equitable society for all its citizens.