Antwerp Court Muddies the Waters: Belgian Burkini Ban Justified

On 18 December 2018, the Antwerp court of first instance held that the burkini ban in the Antwerp Police Regulations does not constitute discrimination based on religion. As opposed to the prior two Ghent rulings, the court held that any potential discrimination was justified by hygiene and safety reasons. Earlier, Antwerp had announced it would invoke gender equality to justify the burkini ban. However, the judgment only considers hygiene and safety. While the latter arguments seem purely pragmatic, there are good reasons to apply searching scrutiny to these grounds of justification.

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