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Romania: Chamber Of Deputies tacitly adopts Draft Bill aiming to repeal Anti-Discrimination Law and disable the Equality Body

March 3rd 2017

On 28 February 2017, a bill aiming to repeal Romanian Anti-discrimination Law was tacitly adopted by the Romanian Chamber of Deputies. The law is now pending to be voted upon in the Senate, where it is hoped that they will quash the bill.

If this bill were adopted, it would seriously affect the National Council for Combatting Discrimination (CNCD), emptying its mandate linked to the Anti-discrimination Law, thus undermining the role and functioning of the national equality body.

* Update: On 14 March, the Romanian Parliament voted not to accept this draft law. Thus the equality body will not be disabled.

Threat to Romanian equality body

The draft law calls for the repeal of Law 48/2002, which was the law that set up the CNCD.

Former deputy Bogdan Diaconu initiated the bill just after he was fined by the CNCD for discriminatory statements against the LGBT community in Romania.

In the explanatory memorandum supporting the draft, he invoked the alleged anti-Romanian character of the national equality body, its alleged control by the Hungarian Democratic Union, the allegation that it supports terrorism and presented the CNCD as working to nullify “Romanian values, traditional Christian values and the rights of Romanians in their own country.”

At the request of the Romanian Government and the specialized committees in Parliament, CNCD formulated an opinion on the draft law on the abrogation of Law no. 48/2002 (project presented under the generic name "removing CNCD").

The opinion, which supports the quashing of the bill, was entirely supported by the Government and the specialized commissions of the Parliament (Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Legal, Discipline and Immunities Committee, Committee for Human Rights, Religion and Minorities), as well as the Legislative Council. The dismissal of the bill was unanimously proposed.

It is important to note that the bill was adopted tacitly - "tacit" denoting that this adoption does not express the wish of the deputies, but means, in fact, an "adopting procedure". Tacit adoption is regulated by art. 75, para. 2 of the Constitution and represents adoption without debate or vote from MPs on the draft law.

Considering the negative opinions of specialists and the tacit manner in which the draft law was adopted, the CNCD strongly hopes that the law in question will be rejected by the Senate.

Importance of strong independent equality bodies

Equinet recalls that all EU Member States have a legal obligation to transpose the EU Equal Treatment Directives into their national legislation by comprehensive equal treatment laws and by setting up or designating equality bodies. Failing to do so would violate EU law and would seriously undermine the values stipulated in the Treaties of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Furthermore, Equinet insists that this development underlines the need for developing standards for equality bodies that guarantee independence, powers & adequate resources for equality bodies, and thus oblige Member States to allow equality bodies to implement their functions and powers effectively.