Ugly law

From the mid-1700s until the 1970s, countries and individual cities had unsightly beggar ordinances known colloquially as ugly laws.[1] These laws deemed it illegal for "any person, who is diseased, maimed, mutilated or deformed in any way, so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object, to expose himself or herself to public view."[1] Exceptions to public exposure were acceptable only if the people were subjects of demonstration, to illustrate the separation of disabled from nondisabled and their need for reformation.[2]

The Charity Organization Society suggested that the best charity relief would be to investigate and counsel the people needing assistance instead of provide them with material relief.[3] This created conflict in people between their desire to be good Christians and good citizens when seeing people in need of assistance.[2] It was suggested that the beggars imposed guilt upon people in this way.[2] "Pauperism is a disease upon the community, a sore upon the body politic, and being a disease, it must be, as far as possible, removed, and the curative purpose must be behind all our thought and effort for the pauper class."[3] Similar to what Slocum said, other authors suggested that giving charity to beggars without knowing what was to be done with the funds, was as "culpable as one who fires a gun into a crowd".[4]

In the mid-1970s, disability activists and authors, Marcia Pearce Burgdorf and Robert Burgdorf, Jr. created the term ugly laws.[2] While the wording of the laws and ordinances did not contain the term 'ugly', this term encompasses the essence of the laws and ordinances and is used to identify this type of law or ordinance.[2]

Ugly Laws of the Philippines

In 1902, an ugly law similar to that of the United States was enacted in the City of Manila in the Philippines.[2] This law was similar to those of the United States, being written in English and during a time when Manila was under American control, and included the common phrasing "no person who is diseased".[2] This was one of the first ordinances to be written under American control.[2] Other ordinances dealt with hygiene reform and considered unsightly beggars part of this indicative.[2]