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In 2017, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities started the drafting process of the General Comment on the article 5 of the Convention (Equality and Non-Discrimination). Equinet contributed by preparing a written submission to the outline of the General Comment.

 

Several equality bodies participated in this year’s Asia-Europe Meeting organized in Vilnius under the patronage of Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. The topic of the conference was women’s economic empowerment, a crucial field for the work of equality bodies in Europe where women still suffer significant economic inequalities.

 

A public hearing, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), took place on 19 May in Brussels. The aim of this hearing was to look at equal treatment, equality bodies and other possible means of redress for Roma.

 

Twenty years after the adoption of the original version of GPR No. 2: Specialised bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance at national level in 1997, ECRI decided to revise its text in order to include the experience and the many good practices that have developed during this time. The revised text shall help to further strengthen specialised bodies, which are vital for advancing equality and for eliminating racism and intolerance in a sustained manner.

 

Equinet Chair Evelyn Collins met with a number of European stakeholders recently in order to update them on our work and discuss common areas of interest.

 

 

Equality Bodies

Can we forbid the wearing of the swimsuit covering the body in a public swimming pool? Unia asked the question to the Health and Care Agency in Flanders and the Flemish Genderkamer. Based on their arguments, Unia sees no valid reason to restrict the freedom to choose an integral swim suit. Unia deduces that, in the absence of a legal basis, this prohibition is contrary to the Flemish anti-discrimination decree.

 

On 19th June, 2017 Agneta Skardžiuvienė, Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania, found that the school Telšiai Žemaitė Gymnasium violated the Law on Equal Treatment of the Republic of Lithuania by not ensuring the absence of discrimination and material promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in its curriculum. It has been confirmed that one of the school’s teachers, during a moral (religious) studies lesson, gave information that degraded gay individuals, promoting a negative attitude toward them and encouraging discrimination.


 

The Equinet Handbook, prepared by members of Equinet’s Working Group on Gender Equality, aims to be a practical and useful tool for anyone who works on equal pay cases, guiding you to existing resources, data, partners and arguments that have been successful in the past. It has been translated by the Office of the Ombudsman into Latvian.

 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has worked with spoken word artist George the Poet to create a powerful film looking at the role of hate crime in our society and the need for all of us to come together to challenge intolerance and report incidents of hate.


 

The Swedish Equality Ombudsman recently investigated and delivered her opinion in two cases concerning demands to shake hands in the working life. The employers involved in both cases had denied (male) applicants jobs when the applicants had declared that, according to their interpretation of Islam, they could not shake hands with persons of the opposite sex.

 

 

Europe

We are calling on our members to take part in public consultation to evaluate strengths and challenges of the EU’s actions for Roma integration.

 

A new Diversity and Inclusion Charter and fresh action to reach at least 40% women in its management by 1 November 2019 are two key features of the Commission’s new human resources policy.

 

 

As part of its 10th anniversary year, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in close cooperation with the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union invites its stakeholders to a symposium on 28 June to discuss fundamental rights issues that are currently high on the Union’s political agenda.

 

In 2016, the European Commission and four major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft) launched a Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech. On 1st June 2017, the European Commission released the results of an evaluation of the Code of Conduct. It was carried out by NGOs and public bodies in 24 EU countries. The results being presented today show that, one year after its adoption, the Code of Conduct has delivered some important progress, while some challenges remain.