Lately several French communities have passed laws that prohibit any type of beachwear that could violate public order, security, hygiene, or does not respect good morals … or all at once. In French it reads like this “L’accès aux plages et à la baignade est interdit […] à toute personne n’ayant pas une tenue correcte, respectueuse des bonnes mœurs et de la laïcité, respectant les règles d’hygiène et de sécurité des baignades adaptées au domaine public maritime.” (Le Monde.fr)
So in simple words anything else than bikini or trunk is not allowed in the land of Liberté, Égalité, and Fraternité. How bad for any type of water sports in which one usually wears a kind of wetsuit also known as neoprene that covers the entire body from top to toe. Surfing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, sailing … all now banned from the French coastline.
It even gets worse by a recent report (the Guardian) of misguided police cadets in Nice that accidentally mixed up a headscarf with that kind of infamous beachwear.
Following these alarming developments, as of now all major international tour operators have canceled their water sports offerings in France and its overseas departments and territories. A company specialized in long-distance swimming adventures stated for example: “Although it is a big loss for our business, we want to make sure that our customers stay safe and do not have to pay penalties or even get arrested for not respecting the sexy (?) French beach culture.”
Well … nearly. The most inconceivable aspect of this whole story is that the mayors bring forward as justification the principle of Laïcisme – the strict separation of state and religion. Where is the separation of the state when it disallows a specific religion to wear clothes like a Burqini that they feel comfortable in?