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Mind your manners! Brussels introduces public swearing fine

Forget the swear jar, Brussels has taken things one step further and introduced a city-wide fine on insults and offensive language. Foul-mouthed local residents and tourists might want to watch their language as authorities will be able to fine them up to 250 euros (£200) for swearing in the street.

Under the new regulations, “any form of insult is from now on punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise,” a spokesperson for the city’s mayor, Freddy Thielemans stated. The popular tourist destination known for its family-friendly vibe, cleanliness and cultivated lifestyle is ruling out any unpleasantness by introducing a cap on offensive language.

Officials came to an agreement with the judicial authorities to impose a fine of between 75 and 250 euros for insults, petty theft and brawls where no physical harm is caused. A spokesman for the Socialist mayor said the courts had previously been too busy to take up cases over these particular offences and the police “had little incentive to take any action over such incidents".

The issue over ‘street swearing’ came to light when a Belgian director, Sofie Peeters secretly filmed the everyday insults and exchanges she ran into on the streets of Brussels. This is not the only case where swearing in public could cost you more than high blood pressure. A town in Middlebourough, USA, voted earlier this year to fine residents $20 (£12) for swearing in public.

Officials claim that the proposal was not to censor casual or private conversations, but just to crackdown on obscene, loud and profanity-laden language used by hoodlums and the youth in the downtown area and public parks.

The town of around 20,000 residents has a 1968 bylaw against cursing, but this is rarely enforced. Yet residents voted 183-50 to approve the proposal from the police chief to impose a penalty in June. Travel insurance might not be able to compensate for a fine on offensive language…..but it could provide peace of mind.

Date Created: 06 September 2012

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