Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I am so glad to not be French and to be allowed to wear my balaclava

The French have passed loi n°2010-1192 du 11 octobre 2010  which very simply 

says the following:

"Nul ne peut, dans l’espace public, porter une tenue destinée à dissimuler son visage".

Which basically means that you can't wear clothing in a public place which is designed to conceal your face.

There is an exception if you are wearing the clothing for health, professional, sporting or artistic reasons.  

If you are convicted then it is a fine (150 Euros) and possibly also enforced enrolment onto something called a citizenship course.

It comes into force in April 2011.

One might think that the land of liberty, fraternity and equality might have a constitutional bar on telling its citizens  what to wear in public but apparently not.  Because the legislature has determined that wearing such a covering is a threat to public safety and demeaning to women and because you can cover your face in private - at home or in a place of worship - then the Constitutional Court has said the law does not offend the Declaration of the Rights of Man.  This is a little surprising as article 4 of the great declaration says:

"Freedom is being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of natural rights each man has no limits except those which assure other members of the society the enjoyment of those rights. These limits can be determined by law "

 I bet the European Court of Human Rights will have a different view.

Vive La Republique!

I am very happy to live in our constitutional monarchy where I doubt a Government 
would dare pass a law telling us what to wear in public (save in times of war - gas masks - or banning dangerously made fibres etc or where a judge cannot judge the witness because his or her face is covered ) and I suspect the judiciary would be ready to declare such a law as incompatible with articles 8 and 10 ECHR if not a few more of our now treasured Convention of Human Rights.

Better not pack your Balaclava if you are going to Paris in the colder months - you might find yourself on a enforced course learning about French Citizenship, where no doubt they teach things like respect for another's religious views and cultural tolerance.

As the great man didn't say:

"Man is or was born free, and he is everywhere not with his face covered"

God save the Queen!


  1. It may not be illegal to wear a balaclava in public, but I doubt it would take long before someone phoned 999 and you were stopped by possibly armed police. It's not something I'm going to try any time soon.

  2. In fairness to the French Government, the French sense of style has never exactly been up there IMHO... maybe it's about time they brought in the fashion police!

    Would I be allowed to wear my motorcycle helmet in France? For health I was thinking more masks to prevent infection, but I suppose my bike helmet would be covered?