• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Outrage forces Marseille to bin yellow triangle IDs

Louise Nordström · 5 Dec 2014, 10:14

Published: 05 Dec 2014 10:14 GMT+01:00

Authorities in Marseille were blasted for its plan to issue its homeless with ID cards featuring yellow triangles that detail their health issues.

Although the initiative was aimed at making it easier for health workers to know what they were dealing with in emergency situations, human rights groups and government ministers were equally outraged, comparing the cards to the Nazi-era yellow Star of David that was sewn onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.

And the uproar put an end to the scheme on Friday when authorities in Marseille confirmed that they were scrapping the plan.

“It’s finished. There won’t be any more cards,” the head of the social and medical emergency services SAMU Sociale René Giancarli told The Local.

“We never meant to cause any harm or trigger a controversy, but it happened,” he said, adding the cards had been stopped on the orders of the city’s mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin.

Giancarli also said he could understand the criticism the initiative had gotten.

“We just wanted good to come out of this, but I made a mistake. I admit that and I can accept when I’m wrong.”

The card, which was supposed to be worn visibly, identified the person with his or her photo, name and date of birth.

It also specified whether the person had any illnesses or allergies. The front of the card was adorned with a yellow triangle.

Several activist groups, including French human rights group La Ligue des droits de l’Homme, said they were troubled by the resemblance “of this card and the yellow star that the Jews had to wear during World War II.”

It also got its fair amount of bashing by President François Hollande’s government in Paris.

Social Affairs Minister Marisol was quoted in French daily Le Parisien on Thursday as saying she was shocked to hear about the initiative and that she wanted Marseille to scrap the IDs with immediate effect.

“Forcing homeless people to carry a yellow triangle indicating the illnesses they might have is outrageous. You don’t point the finger at the poorest.”

Story continues below…

“You don’t write their illnesses on their clothes. Medical confidentiality, in particular, is a fundamental right. I want this local initiative to be stopped,” she said.

On Wednesday, about 100 activists and homeless people also protested against the initiative outside the city’s town hall.

Although Marseille’s Town Hall initially tried to defend the distribution of the cards, saying the purpose was to help health workers quickly come to the aid of a homeless person who has fallen ill or is in need of aid, it finally buckled under the pressure that they were too stigmatising.

Over 100 of the ID cards had been distributed before the plan was scrapped.

Louise Nordström (news.france@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Ten children struck by lightning in Paris park
Photo: AFP

Eleven people including ten children have been injured by lightning during a thunderstorm at Parc Monceau in Paris on Saturday.

What to expect when working in a bar in Paris
Photo: Fabrizio Morrola/Flickr

Fancy the idea of a bar job in Paris? There are a few things you need to know first, writes bartender Lauren Belcher.

Five key tips to opening a bank account in France
Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr

Avoid the headaches. Read this before opening a bank account in France.

Afghan migrant killed by lorry in Calais
French riot police guard a truck after migrants tried to mount several trucks near the Eurotunnel, near Calais earlier this year. Photo: AFP

A 25-year-old Afghan migrant was killed by a lorry on a motorway near the French port city of Calais in the early hours of Saturday, according to officials.

French PM Valls stakes political career on union fight
A demonstrator wears a sticker featuring France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls last week in Nantes, western France, during a protest against government planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

Engaged in a fierce tug of war with unions and some of his own party over labour reforms, France's embattled Prime Minister Manuel Valls has staked his political career on staring down the crisis.

Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,740
jobs available