EU leaders must protect discriminated groups in all walks of life
(Brussels, 12 January 2012) The EU has thrown in the towel about protecting discriminated groups, including lesbian, gay and bisexual people, persons with disabilities, religious minorities, youth and older people, according to a coalition of European equality and anti-discrimination NGOs, which has called on the European Commission and the Danish presidency of the EU to take up this issue urgently.
The European Commission proposed a progressive EU anti-discrimination law in 2008, which would ban discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in areas including education, housing, and access to goods and services, but it has been stuck at EU Council level for over three years. So far, EU law only protects against discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation in employment and occupation, but not in other areas.
If this proposal is shelved, the coalition believes the consequences will be severe. Hopes were raised that at last everyone will enjoy the same rights and access to goods and services wherever they are in the EU. Currently, someone can be denied access to a hotel, housing, or bar based on their religious belief or sexual orientation.
– An EU-wide survey by the European Fundamental Rights Agency on Muslims’ experiences of discrimination shows that some of the highest levels of discrimination occur in private services
– 78% of Europeans who participated in the 2011 European Disability Forum’s survey on freedom of movement said that they would make greater use of their right to free movement in the EU if there were no barriers, such as inaccessible goods and services, non-adapted public spaces and discriminatory attitudes
– Older people face age discrimination in attempting to take out bank loans or buy travel insurance for holidays in the EU
– 53% of respondents to a study on social exclusion of young LGBT people in Europe (2007) reported having experienced bullying in school
– While sex-based discrimination is partly covered by EU legislation, multiple discrimination is still not recognised under EU law. Adoption of the directive would make it easier to combat discrimination against the many women who also belong to discriminated groups
Given the growing climate of intolerance against minorities and the impact of the financial and economic crisis on the most vulnerable groups across Europe, including people with disabilities and older people, the coalition urges:
– The European Commission to put the proposed law back on the political agenda
– The Danish presidency of the EU to take the lead in proceeding transparently with negotiations, accepting input from human rights and anti-discrimination experts
– The Council of the EU not to undermine the Commission’s proposal and ensure the swift adoption of a strong and ambitious anti-discrimination directive which also covers multiple discrimination 1 AGE Platform Europe, Amnesty International, European Disability Forum, European Network Against Racism, European Women’s Lobby, ILGA-Europe (European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organisation.
For further information, contact:
Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer, European Network Against Racism
Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 77 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.enar-eu.org
Peter Clarke, Media & Communications, Amnesty International EU Office
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 27 73 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.amnesty-eu.org
Juris Lavrikovs, Communications Manager, ILGA-Europe
Tel: +32 (0)2 609 54 16 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.ilga-europe.org
Aurélien Daydé, Communication and Media Officer, European Disability Forum
Tel: +32 (0)485 64 39 93 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.edf-feph.org
Anne Mélard, Information and Communication Officer, AGE Platform Europe
Tel: +32 (0)2 280 14 70 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.age-platform.eu
Anna Elomäki, Communications and Media Officer, European Women's Lobby
Tel: +32 (0)2 210 04 27 – Email: [email protected] – Website: www.womenlobby.org