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France

Hairdresser boss who used gay slur not guilty of discrimination

© Andreas Solaro, AFP | A Paris tribunal ruling that a hair salon boss was not guilty of discrimination despite using a gay slur has sparked outrage.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-04-09

The dismissal of a discrimination suit lodged by a hairdresser whose boss described him as a "faggot" before sacking him sparked new outrage on Friday, with Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri calling the judgement "shocking".

In an interview with France's RTL radio station, El Khomri called the judgment "deeply shocking" and "scandalous".

The court case relates to a male employee who was working for a trial period at a Paris hairdressers. The gay hairdresser, who has not been publicly named, called in sick for a day, whereupon his female boss accidentally sent him a text message that said, "I am not keeping him (the plaintiff) on, I'll tell him tomorrow ... I don't like this guy, he's a faggot, they're all up to no good."

The text in French used the slang, “sale PD” (short for “pederast”), is a derogatory term used for homosexuals that is roughly akin to "dirty faggot".

The hairdresser was fired the day after receiving the text.

The hair salon said the employee was let go because he was "slow" and had "trouble fitting in", refused to do certain tasks and "aimed to quickly get a management position".

The Paris tribunal deemed that the slur was not homophobic because "it is known that hairdressers often employ homosexual people".

"Putting this in the context of the hair-dressing business this council (court) considers that the term PD (faggot) cannot be judged homophobic," the court stated as part of its ruling.

'No pejorative meaning'

The hairdresser had taken the case to the Conseil de Prud'hommes de Paris, which settles disputes between employers and employees. The plaintiff claimed he had been discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and was deeply offended by the slur.

In its December 16 ruling, the tribunal recognised the "inappropriate nature and content of the text message". But, it concluded, the term PD, "has entered into day-to-day language and has no pejorative or homophobic meaning in the manager's mind".

While ruling that the employer did not discriminate against the employee, the tribunal awarded him €5,000 ($5,700) for moral prejudice "because injurious words were used".

That ruling shocked many in France, including the government. The plaintiff plans to appeal the decision.

'Bad climate' for gays

A cartoon tweeted by French cartoonist (see below) Nawak featured the tribunal members addressing a series of slurs and stereotypes. “If 'faggot' is not an insult for cartoonists...,” says one tribunal member, “...Then 'crook' is not an insult for estate agents,” finishes another.

"If faggot is not an insult for cartoonists... crook is not an insult for estate agents”

Clemence Zamora-Cruz, spokeswoman of the group Inter-LGBT, said the ruling "may worsen the climate for gays, which is already bad".

She said discrimination against gays rarely gets a hearing because the victims "prefer to keep quiet".

The decision was "clearly homophobic", said Nicolas Noguier, who runs a shelter for victims of homophobia.

"Condensed into three or four lines, it's really all the insults that the young people we help are subjected to."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-04-08

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