Luxtoday

The begging ban: how the law divided society into 'before' and 'after'.

Last time updated
15.02.24
Фото: Nick Fewings, Unsplash

Фото: Nick Fewings, Unsplash

The begging ban was officially introduced on December 15, 2023. After that, there was an endless wave of criticism against the authorities, which gradually turned into protests and mass discontent.

Background

A ban on begging has already appeared once in Luxembourg. It happened under the previous government. But then Minister of the Interior Taina Bofferding scrapped the bill, calling it illegal and inhumane.

Six months later, after the October 8 state elections, Léon Gloden took over as Minister of the Interior. The new politician's first major decision was to repeal his predecessor's decree and legislate a ban on begging in the capital between 07:00 and 22:00.

Taina Bofferding
Ex-Minister for Home Affairs; Ex-Minister of Equality between Women and Men
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Léon Gloden
Minister of Internal Affairs
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Who needs this law

Officially, of course, to the residents of the capital themselves. The government's website clearly states that the passing of the law was provoked by an increase in begging, especially organized gang begging and aggressive begging. And that the purpose of such a ban is to protect the residents and guests of the capital.

The times of the ban are the same as in March of last year: from 07:00 to 22:00. At the same time, the regulations will not apply to the entire city, but only to strictly defined areas: shopping streets, parks, parking lots and squares. It will also not affect every poor person, but only those who engage in organized or aggressive begging.

Some residents note that it is the organization from the outside that has become more numerous: it is often possible to see beggars being taken to points and then taken back. However, people still believe that the ban will have little effect.

Criticism and protests

The opposition began to criticize Léon Gloden. And they started criticizing him even before the bill was passed. The negativity continued to grow, and we wrote about it earlier in our morning digests. Some time later, the public joined in the opposition's complaints.

Initially, the process was peaceful. A petition calling for the law's repeal appeared on the official website. Later, people began to organize demonstrations in the streets of the city. The main message of such marches is to look deeper into the problem. And deeper, according to the demonstrators, is the housing crisis.

"We have known for years that there is a housing crisis in Luxembourg, yet there doesn’t seem to be political will to deal with creating affordable housing for all," said Lisa, a retiree from Luxembourg.

To make matters worse, protesters and the opposition have begun to invoke Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as a Swiss court precedent from 2021, both of which are well suited to the situation. According to the European Court of Justice, begging is a way to meet basic needs, so people in vulnerable situations have the right to do so. Sanctions and fines, on the other hand, aim to degrade the honor and dignity of people trying to survive.

Measures and consequences

It is too early to talk about a radical long-term solution. The government has been defending the decision for quite some time, so it is unlikely to back down after a few demonstrations.

The reaction of the European Commission is also interesting. So far, Brussels has remained silent and has not commented on the conflict in Luxembourg, the possible violation of the Convention and the growing unrest. However, it is unlikely that this issue will be put on hold.

It is possible that the law will be eased in the future, but it is also possible that it will be tightened: for example, a reform of the penal code that would equate homeless people with criminals. Of course, it is unlikely that the parliament will allow such a turn of events, but we should not write it off before time.

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Last time updated
15.02.24

Source: Euronews

We took photos from these sources: Nick Fewings на Unsplash

Authors: Aleksandr, Kadriia

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