German court rules military ‘goth’ must cut hair and beard

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Daniel Wighton - [email protected]
German court rules military ‘goth’ must cut hair and beard
Photo: DPA

A German soldier has lost a court battle to keep his hair long. The court however said that lawmakers will need to find a justification for why the rule - which allows women but not men to have longer hair - continues to exist.


A German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig upheld a law on Thursday that requires enlisted men - but not enlisted women - to cut their hair and beards. 

A 51-year-old solider who works in the defence ministry in Bonn brought the action on gender discrimination grounds. 

The man, described as being a part of Germany’s Goth scene, said that he had been told to cut his hair by his supervisors due to internal regulations.

The soldier argued that the rule was discriminatory as it prescribed different standards for men and for women. 

According to military rules, men’s hair is not allowed to obstruct their eyes or ears, and it is also not allowed to come into contact with their uniforms. The same rules apply for female soldiers, although they are permitted to tie up or braid their hair while on official duty. 

The court held that equal rights rules did not require that all rules must be the same for men and for women. The court held however that the rule itself should be reconsidered as it interferes with the freedom of the individual.

Although the court ruled the man must cut his hair, authorities are now required to provide a justification for why the rule exists - or change it. 

Germany’s basic law protects people from “having to comply with restrictions through official instructions on personal appearance without a legal basis, when they also affect one’s appearance outside the service."

The current rule will continue to apply until the legislators have decided upon a course of action. 

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