The Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities, Zuhal Demir, said on Wednesday that she wanted the possibility of banning burkinis from swimming pools to be studied. Demir said she saw the wearing of the garment in swimming pools as a threat by religion against women’s rights.
“A burkini is a symbol of oppression, not emancipation,” the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) minister said after a Ghent court rejected a ban, for hygiene and security reasons, on wearing the long swimsuit in municipal swimming pools in Ghent.
On the other hand, the Inter-federal Centre for Equal Opportunities, UNIA, feels a general ban on the burkini would amount to discrimination. Such a ban can place women who wear the burkini for religious reasons, due to their physical characteristics or because of a handicap at a disadvantage.
“People must be free to dress as they wish, even in a swimming pool,” UNIA said. If pressure is put on women because they wear burkinis, it’s the local authorities that should act, the centre added.