Last month, the French government passed a law that bans discrimination based on a person’s regional accent. The penalty if found guilty of the offense is up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine of 45.000 Euros. The bill passed easily, with 98 votes for and only 3 against.
France has as many as 28 different regional dialects and accents and the discrimination against someone based on their particular accent is referred to as glottophobie.
While the bill was being debated, multiple members of the French government spoke about the impact glottophobie has had on them. Patricia Miralles, who was elected to the National Assembly in 2017, noted that she was mocked when she was younger for speaking with an Algerian accent.
Christophe Euzet was the member of the French parliament to propose the bill. He noted that “audible” minorities are forgotten about in France.
“At a time when the ‘visible’ minorities benefit from the legitimate attention of public authorities, the ‘audible’ minorities are the main forgotten people of the social contract based on equality,” Euzet said.
Also mentioned during the debate was how broadcasters with regional accents are often limited to “reading the weather” or reporting on rugby.
The issue of discrimination against people with regional accents in France was brought to the forefront of the national discussion due to comments made by National Assembly member Jean-Luc Mélenchon during a media scrum in 2018. When a reporter with a southern accent asked him a question, Mélenchon responded with, “Can someone ask me a question in French? And make it a bit more understandable.”
A clip of the interaction went viral, likely spurring motivation in the French National Assembly to take action and prevent further incidents.
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