What unites us is greater than what divides us

We’re all different, all unique, and all equal. No one in our societies should be left behind or pushed aside because of who we are, or where we come from.

Our social circles are becoming more diverse, there is greater support for promoting diversity and in Europe people are showing increasingly tolerant attitudes. Yet some of us are still treated differently and unfairly simply because of who we are.

2015 survey showed increasingly tolerant attitudes towards people at risk of being discriminated for who they are or where they come from, but this varies a lot between EU countries and doesn’t extend as far for some people, including Muslim people, Roma and transgender individuals.

In 2015, across the EU 21% of people said they had felt discriminated against in the last year, up from 16% three years earlier in a 2012 survey.

Transgender people in Europe face disproportionate levels of bullying, violence and discrimination, and are still fighting for legal gender recognition – the right to say in law which gender they want to be identified as.

Across Europe there are thousands of people fighting for their rights to be treated with dignity and respect. People like Adel: 

 “In 2017 I received several death threats and I decided not to remain silent. If more of us come out publicly and share our stories, even our collective stories, this could give us hope to build a better world and a better Europe.

It’s very difficult and slow to get change to happen, but it’s in the air. You can feel it, it’s started. If people get to know our stories then we will truly become part of society, and I think this is a positive change.

It is a very good thing that the world is moving in a better direction. It is becoming more open and, if we can, we need to stand up and be responsible for these issues, because that’s the only way to achieve change in our lifetime.”

Roma across Europe still face discrimination in housing, education, access to jobs and other aspects of life.

Marius Pruteanu is a young activist working to change this:

“I’m trying to influence how people see things, prejudice against Roma – my people.

I’ve been a Roma activist for 5 years. I’m trying to tell people how I came to Sweden, how my life has been here, so I can change their perceptions and judgements about the things that create racism and discrimination. I also try to influence politicians.

I’ve worked a lot around the issue of begging, and I say, no, we shouldn’t stop begging, that’s not good. Roma people from Romania are super-discriminated against when they come to another country. Even when you live here you’re discriminated against.  It could be lots of those little things that always happen, even on the street, or when people can’t get a job because they are Roma. Our rights have not been realised. When we get our rights, we also want to make sure others have theirs. And that gives me energy.

It’s very important now, when the new elections are coming, that we go and vote, to say what we think and not sit at home on the sofa watching TV. I wish all young people would come out and vote, to express what they want to do with their lives, the future. Every vote that you give someone means that person can do something for you, for others. You shouldn’t let the people in Parliament just do what they like. You should be there, someone should be representing you in Parliament.

It’s important. Come and vote with me.”

Together we can challenge our politicians to build better, more equal societies. A major opportunity to do this is just around the corner, with the European elections coming up in May.

If you want to demand action against discrimination it’s simple!

  • Help Adel and Marius TURN IT UP by sharing their stories
  • Follow #TurnItUp on social media and tell us what you want to do about discrimination
  • Make some noise about tackling discrimination and tell politicians what you want by voting.