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Lawmakers forbid dreadlocks discrimination, others in France



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The French Parliament approved legislation on Thursday to outlaw discrimination against dreadlocks, braids, afros, and any other hair style, colour, or texture, defeating some who called the bill an unnecessary import of United States ideas.

Olivier Serva, a Black MP from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe who drafted the bill, said it would help victims of such bias, in the workplace and beyond, make their voices heard and win court cases.

“There is a lot of suffering (based on hair bias), and we need to take this into account,” he told Reuters.

Serva cited a 2023 study by Unilever’s shampoo brand Dove and LinkedIn that showed that two out of three black women in the United States changed their hair for a job interview and that black women’s hair was 2.5 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.

The bill, which aims to ban all discrimination against hair texture or hair cuts, will also protect blond women from sexist discrimination, Serva said.

It adds discrimination over hair to the existing anti-discrimination law.

44 legislators approved the bill against just two, and, as is often the case, many MPs cast no votes at all for this first reading of the text. The Senate must approve it to become a law.

At least 23 states in the US have passed laws to prevent hair discrimination in the workplace and in public schools.

Not everyone backs the proposal in France, which prides itself on a culture of universalism that states that all people are equal and which does not allow ethnic quotas or even collecting data based on ethnicity.

Speaking in the parliamentary committee that discussed the draft ahead of the full-house debate, Fabien Di Filipo of the conservative Les Republicains mocked the bill, saying: “Should we tomorrow expect a bill on discrimination against bald people, which I think are underrepresented in shampoo ads?”

He said France already bans bias based on looks, so the draft bill was redundant, adding it aimed to import a US mindset into French legislation.

Philippe Schreck, from the far-right National Rally, told parliament lawmakers should work on more important issues, such as the country’s public debt, rather than on hair discrimination.