"Any form of insult is from now on [is] punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise," Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans' spokesperson quoted him as saying, according to a New Europe online report
The fines for using offensive language or for sexually harassing someone in public will range between 75 and 250 euros, according to the report.
Mayor Thielemans officers are encouraged to use fines when offensive public behavior is discovered that previously went ignored because it was never prosecuted. Thielemans said police officers "had little incentive to take any action over such incidents." Now, the nice legislation
changes police behavior and that of citizens who are subject to arrest.
Nice laws may be coming to a town near you. In June, Middleborough, Mass.
, passed a measure that slaps people caught cursing in public with a $20 fine.
"It's mainly for aggressive behavior or verbal assault of someone who's a distance away from you," said Mimi Duphily, a 63-year-old resident. "It's really just about when it rises above what is acceptable behavior."
It is unclear how freedom of speech could coincide with laws that punish citizens who engage in it.