LOVE them or loathe them, tattoos have become a popular “accessory” in recent years. People of all ages and socio-economic groups are choosing to be inked and the word “choose” is very important in the tattoo debate. Just like people who choose body piercings, a hair colour change or a new style of dress, the decision to be tattooed is a person’s choice and should be respected. While some say the nightclubs’decision to refuse entry to patrons with exposed tattoos is their prerogative, the ban may, in fact, be breaking the law. The Victorian Equal Opportunity Rights Commission said that banning nightclub patrons because of their exposed tattoos could be a breach of the Equal Opportunity Act 20120, unless the tattoos were offensive. Since Saturday’s story in The Courier about Craig Knight and Joshua Jewell claiming to be banned from two popular nightspots in Ballarat because of their extensive tattoos, this newspaper’s website has been inundated with comments from both sides of the debate. Siding with the nightclubs, FJ wrote: “Welcome to the real world. Like it or not getting tattoos up your neck is going to cause many people to discriminate against you. It may be illegal, but the fact remains many people will judge you for having visible tattoos .” While in support of the men who made the claims, Just Me wrote: “For crying out loud, people who are ink’d aint all bad ... our ink tells a story, maybe it’s one of loss. Just because a person is ink’d does not mean they are criminals...” While the adage of “never judge a book by its cover” should be a mantra all people live by, unfortunately many people do make decisions on first appearance. Without even knowing a person’s personality or qualities, some people judge others on their looks. Whether it’s for a job interview or just a casual passing in the street, people who have extensive visible tattoos are judged on those tattoos. Yes, the decision now to get a tattoo may be regretted later in life, but that, too, is a choice. Maybe those are contemplating getting tattoos should consider where they are displayed, but that, too, is a personal choice and should be respected as such.