Equality bodies are independent organisations assisting victims of discrimination, monitoring and reporting on discrimination issues, and promoting equality. They are legally required to promote equality and combat discrimination in relation to one, some, or all of the grounds of discrimination covered by European Union (EU) law – gender, race and ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability.
Since the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) and the Gender Equal Treatment Directives (the 2010/41 on self-employed persons, the 2006/54 Recast directive, and the 2004/113 Goods and services directive), a wide variety of practices concerning equality bodies exist across the EU Member States. While six grounds of discrimination are protected in EU law, so far, European anti-discrimination law only requires that equality bodies are set up on the grounds of race and ethnic origin and gender. However, many countries went beyond these EU requirements and have bodies that deal with other grounds of discrimination as well.
Equality bodies also cover different fields of discrimination, from employment, through education and healthcare to the provision of goods and services. While many Equinet members deal with discrimination in all fields of life, some are only mandated to deal with one or a few fields. This part of the Online Directory provides information on which fields of life equality bodies cover.
Similarly, while most Equinet members are mandated to work on equality and non-discrimination in both the public and the private sector, some of them only cover one of these sectors.
Equality bodies are independent statutory bodies established to implement equal treatment legislation and must have a broad mandate to promote and support the achievement of full equality in practice and to combat and eliminate all forms of discrimination in all areas of society.
In addition to the work being done under European Union equality legislation, Members States are also party to various conventions and agreements in international law and some equality bodies have additional functions relating to these fields of work and international obligations.
While it cannot be exhaustive in covering all the possible combination of additional functions, this section identifies whether or not Equinet member equality bodies also cover Violence against Women, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), as well as hate crime and hate speech in their mandate.