Skull tattoo (symbolic image): Not automatically violent
Photo: imago stock & people / imago images / ZUMA Wire
Does a skull tattoo allow the conclusion that the wearer wants to glorify violence?
Not automatically, says the Düsseldorf Administrative Court in a current decision (file number 2 L 1822/21).
Before the applicant is therefore rejected as unsuitable, the overall context of the body art work with other tattoos and their meaning must be examined, the court demanded.
A man who had applied for the police enforcement service in North Rhine-Westphalia had complained.
But the state refused because it suspected that the applicant's attitude glorified violence.
He had a skeleton with a skull tattooed on his upper arm.
The teeth in the jaws of the skull are "oversized" and frightening.
In addition, cracks can be seen in the skeleton, which indicate violence.
By means of an urgent application, the applicant wanted to force the preliminary employment in the preparatory service for the police enforcement service - and was successful: the tattoo does not generally preclude employment in the police enforcement service, at least in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Doubts about the lack of character suitability are not proven because of the tattoo.
Hourglass, angel, dove of peace
Just because the jaws of the skull and the teeth are particularly large does not indicate an attitude towards the glorification of violence. The other tattoos on the upper arm should also be looked at. The skeleton is carrying a chain with an hourglass attached to it. Next to it are an angel, a dove of peace and an eye.
The applicant explained to the court what the pictures should stand for: The skeleton with the hourglass shows the transience of human life and is a reminder to use life sensibly. The angel stands for strength, security and courage, the dove of peace for love, hope and reconciliation and the eye for knowledge, knowledge and truth. In view of this explanation, the applicant should not be denied access to the law enforcement service because of an attitude that glorifies violence, the administrative court found. Four years ago, the same court had already ruled that a general tattoo ban was illegal - a year later, however, affirmed that the rejection should continue to exist because of motives glorifying violence.
In the current case, the exact placement of the picture decorations also played a role. Because the applicant could cover his tattoo with a short-sleeved summer shirt. If that had not been the case, other standards might have applied, as a judgment of the Federal Administrative Court from May last year shows (file number 2 C 13.19). At that time, the Leipzig judges had confirmed Bavarian regulations that forbid "externally recognizable tattoos". This also includes the Hawaiian greeting "aloha", which was supposed to remind a police superintendent of his honeymoon with his wife. Such "non-discardable appearance features" are incompatible with the neutrality and representational function of a police officer, the court had ruled.
The case of a police applicant, about which the Hessian Administrative Court had to judge, lies even further back: He had doubts about the neutrality of the woman who had the words "Please tame me" tattooed on her forearm in French.
According to the Kassel judges in July 2014 (file number 1 B 1006/14), the uniformed appearance of a federal police officer must be “free from exaggerations”.
mh / JurAgentur