French authorities have scrapped a programme which saw homeless people branded with yellow stickers detailing their illnesses.
An initiative of Marseille’s Town Hall, the stickers featured a large yellow triangle and carried the homeless person’s name, age, photo as well a specifying whether they had any illnesses or allergies.
Activists and homeless people outraged at the initiative protested outside the city’s town hall yesterday. Parallels were drawn with the Nazi-era Star of David sewn onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.
Authorities said the stickers were life-savers and didn’t necessarily have to be worn in full view. Marseille deputy mayor Xavier Mery told The Local they were essential for “firefighters and care workers to get access to essential information in order to identify, give efficient help and often to save the lives of people lacking a social safety net”.
Civil libertarians, social media and even France’s own politicans weren’t convinced.
“I’m shocked,” French Social Affairs minister Marisol Touraine told Le Parisien.
“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.
“You don’t write their illnesses on their clothes. Medical confidentiality, in particular, is a fundamental right.”
Last night, the director of French medical aid agency SAMU, René Giancarli, said it would “change the look” of the card.
“Our aim was only to come to the aid of the destitute as efficiently as possible,” he said.
“I really didn’t see this row coming.”