Thursday, April 02, 2009

European Parliament approves new anti-discrimination legislation

The following press release has been issued today by Emine Bozkurt MEP concerning the vote to approve new EU non discrimination legislation

Press release:

European Parliament approves new anti-discrimination legislation

European Christian-Democrats vote against

"A wonderful victory for equal rights in Europe", says Dutch Member of European Parliament Emine Bozkurt who led the negotiations on the issue for the European Social-Democrats. She feels however very disappointed by the no-vote of the European Christian-Democrats. During the votes it became clear the overall majority of them voted against the new directive. The proposal for legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, age and disability throughout the European Union was approved despite this opposition by the largest political group in the EU Parliament.

The European Parliament proved to be extremely divided about the new legislation. The European Social-Democrats stressed from the start the need for the new directive which eliminates the hierarchy between different grounds of discrimination. Bozkurt: "It is so important that all people in Europe are protected against discrimination. It is absolutely unbelievable that so many MEPs still voted against. It is just impossible to explain why still not everybody is protected against unequal treatment. Discrimination harms our entire society and we need to tackle this in all possible ways."

The newly proposed rules will ban discrimination on the basis of age, handicap, sexual orientation, belief and religion. They are meant as an addition to existing rules which currently only protects certain groups from discrimination or only in certain situations. The new anti-discrimination directive should guarantee that European citizens can move freely in each EU Member State without facing discrimination. Bozkurt: "Throughout the EU people are still discriminated, they are denied insurance, education or a home just because of their age, religion or sexual orientation. Furthermore, at the moment only three countries in Europe have legislation against multiple-discrimination. This means for example that a gay woman in a wheelchair who is discriminated will usually be forced to choose on what ground she suspects the discrimination took place when she files a formal complaint. Thanks to Social-Democrat proposals people will no longer be forced to make such an absurd choice."

The impact of the new rules will be different in each EU country. Bozkurt: "In some East European countries the LGBT-community now hardly has any legal protection but it is wrong to generalise and there is no real East-West divide. Also, legislation to enable handicapped people to fully participate in society is far behind in many European countries, including my own. This directive is ambitious to change this but also reasonable and realistic. It gives countries and businesses plenty of time to make the necessarily adjustments."


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