France to ban discrimination based on hair texture, colour or style

Paris, Mar. 28, (dpa/GNA) – The lower house of the French parliament approved a legislative initiative on Thursday that aims to ban any discrimination based on hair and hairstyle.

While discrimination on this basis has long been highlighted in the US and UK, the issue is still being ignored in France, argued Olivier Serva, a member of parliament from the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, who introduced the initiative.

It provides for explicit reference to “cut, colour, length or texture of hair” in legal passages against discrimination. The Senate still has to approve the law.

In France, there is no clear legal framework to cover people who are discriminated against on the basis of their hair, Serva explained.

In the US, for example, the state of California passed a decree in 2019 to combat discrimination on the basis of hair colour. Following this, 20 states and 30 cities in the US passed similar laws. And in the UK, a commission has recommended that Afro haircuts should not be banned in British schools.  

Not being able to wear your natural hair without restrictions, whether as curls, in plaits or in an Afro look, impairs self-esteem and self-confidence, Serva said, and could lead to work-based discrimination.

The legislative initiative does not only apply to ethnic groups, however, but would also protect blonde women. According to a study conducted in the UK, blonde women sometimes dye their hair darker in order to appear more intelligent in a professional context.