Time for President Barroso to show leadership on equality

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Three and a half years into the Barroso Commission’s term, the network of European NGOs working to combat racism (ENAR) reminds the Commission President of his initial announcement that he would introduce a framework directive to cover “all forms of discrimination”.

In spite of the Commission’s public commitment to the cause of non-discrimination on the occasion of the European Year of Equal Opportunities 2007, ENAR says in a March 20 post on BlogActiv that “mixed messages have been coming out of the Commission on who exactly will be covered”. 

ENAR asks whether there will be four or five different grounds for discrimination, or just one. “Sometimes it is religion that will be excluded, other times sexual orientation, most recently it is rumoured that it will be all except disability,” ENAR states.

The NGO alliance goes on to ask Barroso whether he has “forgotten his earlier commitments”. It claims discrimination against religious minorities throughout the EU “has been steadily increasing, including worrying trends in relation to Islamophobia and anti-Semitism” and puts multiple discrimination into perspective. 

“If you are Muslim, disabled, old, or lesbian, you can still be discriminated against in education or refused access to healthcare or housing. For people with multilayered identities such as a gay Christian wanting a good education or a disabled black woman, the gaps are even wider.”

ENAR states that “only by fighting for comprehensive protection against all discrimination grounds that we will achieve equal opportunities for all in jobs, accommodation [and] schools”. 

“The proposal which is currently in the pipeline cannot result in yet another missed opportunity to protect Europe’s numerous and multi-faceted victims of discrimination,” ENAR insists. 

“The commitment to legislation that can seize this opportunity is there, it is in these victims’ name that we now need the political leadership and clarity of intentions to see it happen,” the blog post concludes.

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