France, a country with a long and complicated history when it comes to race and discrimination, is considering a move to ban hair discrimination. Although the French legislation faces an uphill battle, it has the potential to surpass similar protections in the United States, where the debate over popular Black hairstyles has continued for years.

The Associated Press reported that France’s National Assembly recently passed a bill that would ban hair-based discrimination in the country. The bill would outlaw discrimination based on things like hair texture and length, including baldness, as well as hairstyles. The bill was proposed by Olivier Serva, a Black member of the French parliament who is from Guadeloupe, a French region located in the Caribbean. Serva noted that the law is intended to ban racial discrimination based on hair, telling the Associated Press that “people who don’t fit in Eurocentric standards are facing discrimination, stereotypes and bias.” While the proposal passed the lower chamber of the French parliament, where only 50 of 577 members showed up for the vote, it may face trouble in the conservative-dominated French Senate.

Due to its long colonial history, France has a diverse population, with citizens and lawmakers of Caribbean and African heritage, among others. This diversity has led to racial, ethnic and religious tensions, with minority populations often complaining of discrimination and mistreatment; for example, major protests and riots erupted in 2023 after the police killing of a teenager of North African descent. Meanwhile, Black visitors from abroad also deal with microaggressions and racial harassment. Despite these societal divides, however, French leaders generally depict the country as not racist, in contrast to places like the United States.

If France does pass the proposed ban on hair-based discrimination, it would be the first country to implement such a policy on a national level, moving it past the United States. In the U.S., a federal version of the CROWN Act has passed the House of Representatives but has stalled in the Senate. At least 22 states have passed a version of the CROWN Act, with additional states and territories, including Puerto Rico, considering similar legislation.  Even in states with these laws in place, however, Black individuals have still faced exclusion because of their hairstyles, showing that the fight against hair-based discrimination remains an uphill battle.

Now, France has entered that battle. Should its proposed legislation pass, it will be both a major victory in the movement to fight hair discrimination and an advancement for France as it recognizes the types of racial discrimination and marginalization within its borders that it has often chosen to ignore.