A Paris tribunal has ruled that calling a male hairdresser a “faggot” is not homophobic – “because hair salons regularly employ gay people”.
The case relates to an employee at a salon who was fired after failing to turn up for work while sick.
His boss accidentally sent him a text using the slur, so the hairdresser took him to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
French Labour Minister Myriam el Khomri called the judgement “shocking”.
The text from the salon boss read: “I am not going to keep [the employee]… I don’t have a good feeling about this guy. He’s a faggot,” according to Liberation.
They used the French term “PD” which translates as the term “faggot”.
In the reasoning, the tribunal said: “If we put it in the context of the field of hairdressing, the council considers that the term ‘faggot’ used by a manager cannot be considered as a homophobic insult, because hair salons regularly employ gay people, notably in female hairdressers, and that poses no problem at all.”
It agreed the word was insulting, but it fell short of being considered discriminatory.
Social media users have called the ruling scandalous. One gay rights group called the tribunal “brainless”, warning it was trivialising homophobia.
Reporter Mathieu Brancourt, who tweeted the tribunal’s finding, wrote: “You are a hairdresser, you get called a faggot, and that’s OK because hairdressers are often gay right. Thanks, tribunal.”
Ms Khomri told RTL radio that, though she was not familiar with the details of the case, she found the ruling “deeply shocking”.
The employee was awarded €5,000 in damages ($5,700; £4,000) but will appeal the tribunal’s decision.