13 July 2017

Prohibition on burkini in public swimming baths may be discriminatory

The Inter-federal Centre for Equal Opportunities, UNIA, this weekend expressed a negative opinion relating to the prohibition of the swimming costume covering the entire body (or the burkini) in public swimming baths.

The Centre had been approached by Flemish cities, towns and communes to provide advice upon the issue.

UNIA, which bases its advice upon the arguments put forward by the Flemish Agency for Care and Health, says that this prohibition is without legal basis. It poses no problem as regards hygiene and safety, and the costume would not jeopardize male-female equality.

Several cities, towns and communes in Flanders, including Ghent and Leuven, as well as individual swimmers, have contacted UNIA regarding this prohibition.

The Director of UNIA, Els Keytsman, indicated, “In recent years we have received several dozen indications on the part of supporters and opponents asking questions.” The Centre, which is not a specialist in the field, has turned to the Flemish Agency for Care and Health and the “Gender” section of the Flemish Mediation Service. UNIA adds that it appears that “none of the arguments put forward in favour of the prohibition has any basis in law.” [The Brussels Times] Read more