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Italy Bans Height Discrimination In Its Armed Forces
Heightism   Tuesday, February 09, 2016   0 Comments
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Italy has officially dropped all height requirements for admission to its armed and police forces as of January 13, 2016. Following 225 out of 233 senate votes, and a full 430 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, the new law replaces all height requirements with new physical requirements which instead focus on BMI and overall strength.


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When compulsory military service was enforced in Italy, the minimum height required for enrollment was 4’11. The Fascist regime in power at the time made it mandatory that all the high school graduate draftees attend a reserve officer course. It was thus a shock to many young short Italians when a 1987 law was passed requiring a minimum height of 5’5 for all future inductees.  It was certainly ironic that the decree was made by the shortest prime minister in Italian history, Amintore Fanfani, a man who measured no more than 5’3, and had been able to serve a reserve officer during the days when fascism was a part of every day Italian political life.

When Italy dropped conscription and opted for an all-volunteer military in 2000, the minimum height of 5’5 for men and 5’3 for women remained. A minimum height of 5’7 for men was required for the Carabinieri – the Italian military police corps. These height requirements were strictly enforced down to the millimeter, but became increasingly unpopular among civilians as the decade marched on. It is important to note that with the exception of the the armed forces and police, height discrimination has always been a very rare phenomenon in Italy, a country where many successful politicians and managers are short, and very few people think that a leader must be tall.


The Removal Of Height Requirements Allows More Women To Enlist | Source: Wiki Commons

As 2010 approached, a movement for the removal of the height requirements began to materialize in Italy. It was supported most strongly by women who wanted to enlist but could not because of the strict requirements. The law as it stood was more discriminatory toward women in practice as aggregately, more women fell below the listed height requirement than did men. The movement gradually won the support of all the political groups in the Italian Parliament. Several bills were introduced to ban height discrimination in the armed forces and police, and one of them was approved in 2014 by both Houses almost unanimously.

Senator Silvana Amati, the main proponent of that bill, opened the discussion in the Senate by saying:

"It is a very simple bill that actually removes an obstacle considered by many girls and many boys a real impediment to the hope for their future. So we give full effect to Article 3 of the Constitution, where it is written that it is the duty of the Republic to remove those obstacles which, constraining the freedom and equality of citizens, prevent the full development of the human person.


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"The regulation in force for access to competitions for the recruitment is in fact based solely on a physical fact which the height, thus defining in concrete terms an obstacle regulatory threat. It is noted that discrimination does not take into account the complexity of the physical structure of the subject, discrimination but can also affect the emotional sphere unjustifiably. Physical limitations are in fact perceived by many people rightly as a personal limit, as a defect in which they have no fault, but that raises as an insurmountable obstacle to their programs and future plans for life".


So as of this year, one of the most absurd and unjust discriminations has officially ended in the Italy.


A special thanks to Emanuele Pigni for portions of this article. 


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