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Welcome to the monthly update on the work of European equality bodies, sent by Equinet - the European Network of Equality Bodies
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SPOTLIGHT ON EQUALITY BODIES
The Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism

submitted its observations in a case in which the European Committee on Social Rights held that Belgium discriminated against highly dependent persons with disabilities (i.e. violation of their right to benefit from social welfare services - Article 14 - and their right to non-discrimination - Article E - under the revised European Social Charter of 1996);

launched a brochure entitled "At the school of your choice with a disability: reasonable accommodation in education"
;

brought evidence to the attention of Facebook in relation to a Facebook page called “No Muslim programs on VRT" (the Flemish public broadcasting company) because of its racist, hateful and violent content. Facebook decided to delete the page on Saturday 14th September. The Center will also contact the administrator(s) of the page inviting them to an informative meeting about their responsibilities as administrators / moderators of Facebook pages and other fora on the Internet. Read more (in French)
The Czech Public Defender of Rights

launched a research to examine accessibility of financial and insurance services to elderly clients
.

stated that it considered extending the grounds for discrimination generally undesirable in relation to the Czech government's presentation of an amendment to the Anti-discrimination Act offering special protection for whistle-blowers reporting criminal offenses to law enforcement authorities at their place of employment. Read more
The Cypriot Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman)

submitted its recommendations in a report concerning the prevention and handling of homophobic speech. Consequently, the Ministry of Justice proposed an amendment of the Penal Code, by which the definition of “hate speech”, which is penalized, is expanded to include any incitement for violence or hatred against anyone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity;
 
submitted the Annual Reports of the Anti-Discrimination Body and the Equality Authority for the year 2012 (in Greek), to the President of the Republic and the President of the Parliament of Cyprus, respectively;

addressed a day conference co-organized by the Cyprus Organization for Standardization and the Cyprus Confederation of Organizations of People with Disabilities (ΚΥΣΟΑ), titled “Accessibility and quality of life for people with disabilities – European and International Standards”. Read more (in Greek)
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the Board of Equal Treatment

started two campaigns to raise awareness on anti-discrimination legislation and redress for discrimination cases in Denmark:

‘Stop It Now!’
A campaign to raise awareness among citizens in Denmark about their right not to be discriminated against, as well as where to file complaints or seek counseling if they experience discrimination. As part of the campaign DIHR and the Board along with a theater group will visit schools, vocational schools and upper secondary schools with a play presenting the pupils of examples of discrimination and involving them in a dialogue about discrimination and prejudice.
 
‘Equal Opportunities are an Asset’

A campaign to raise awareness about the importance of equal opportunities in the labor market and knowledge of anti-discrimination legislation for businesses in the province of Denmark. Three companies have been chosen to focus on how to ensure equal opportunities and promoting diversity to improve the well-being of employees and to provide a better service to all customers/citizens regardless of their background.

For more information contact Signe Hinz Andersen.
 
Equal Treatment of Greenlanders in Denmark

A pilot study, compiled by the DIHR,  examines equal treatment of Greenlanders living in Denmark. Greenlanders are by law  Danish citizens and are not officially  recognized as an ethnic minority in Denmark, but they face some of the same barriers  and problems as other ethnic minority groups in the Danish society. The pilot study indicates  that there are experiences with barriers  and stigma for Greenlanders in different spheres of society, for socially exposed as well as for citizens with better resources. The study points to a number of problems which ought to be addressed in a more in-depth examination of their conditions (see an English summary of the study’s main points, pp. 41-42).
The Hungarian Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights

On 8th August 2013, Dr. János Áder, the President of Hungary, nominated his new candidate for the position of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary. The nominee, Dr. László Székely, is a civil lawyer and associate professor at the Faculty of Law of the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest. Read more
The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights

developed a practical and interactive training for (future) HRM-professionals called "Discrimination-free access to work" in order to combat discrimination at the entrance to the labour market. This training describes important scientific insights about the origin, functioning and changeability of stereotyping processes, as well as their negative effects on assessors and assesses (older / young people, ethnic minorities, disabled persons and women). This training, that will be available in English in 2014, aims at promoting recognizing important stereotyping mechanisms by HRM-professionals and thus reducing the influence of stereotyping on the recruitment and selection process. This fall the training will be given to several companies in the Netherlands. Before developing the training a study of literature (available in dutch) was done.
The Swedish Equality Ombudsman

published an article about the situation of Sami people in Sweden. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has recently expressed its concerns that Sweden does not respect Sami rights to land and that the Swedish state – without consent of Sami – opens for a growing mining industry within Sami land.  Ms Agneta Brobeg,
Equality Ombudsman, finds that the Swedish Sami policy of today neither contains legislation nor measures to secure Sami equal rights and possibilities. Not even when existing legislation is put into practice is there enough respect of Sami rights. Ms Broberg agrees with CERD that Sweden should ratify the ILO convention no. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries and urge the Government to take initiatives for a national policy on the rights for Indigenous people;

is following up on employers that the previous Equal Opportunities Ombudsman for Gender also monitored in 2006 – 2008. The preliminary results show that there are positive effects related to monitoring. The primary aim of the follow up, which includes 470 employers, is to monitor the compliance with the Discrimination Act, which requires employers to survey and analyze the pay differences between men and women performing work that is regarded as equal or of equal value. The still ongoing follow up shows that more than three quarters of the employers seem to live up to the requirements of the Discrimination Act and that, once an understanding for the work with active measures in relation to equal pay is established, most of the employers will continue with a systematic and methodological work to promote equal pay and prevent discrimination. The EO's department for Compliance Monitoring is responsible for this follow up. For more information contact Björn Andersson;

 
welcomes Sweden's abolition of the requirement for compulsory sterilization in sex reassignment surgery. The Ombudsman previously
indicated, together with the National Board of Health and Welfare and LGBTQ organizations, that forced sterilization is contrary to various international human rights conventions to which Sweden agreed to follow. The requirement for compulsory sterilization in sex reassignment surgery has been removed from the Swedish legislation from 1 July 2013. In practice, the requirement was already abolished due to a judgment of the Administrative Court of Appeal in Stockholm in late 2012 which held that the requirement violated the European Convention on Human Rights. EO notes that, in addition to creating and implementing laws, it is also important to focus on attitudes and conduct, e.g. the manner in which we react in working life or health care to a person who has gone through sex reassignment surgery.
The British Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

published its submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ahead of an oral examination on July 17 2013, which will look at the UK’s progress on women’s equality. In its submission the EHRC identifies key issues it believes should be highlighted as actions following the examination and sets out a number of questions the Committee may wish to put to the Government;

published technical guidance aiming to help schools protect their pupils from discrimination and promote equality;

featured in a Business, Innovation and Skills Committee report published on women in the workplace (stereotyping of jobs and gender representation; equality legislation and equal pay; flexible working; maternity leave and childcare; the EHRC; women in senior positions; and conclusions and recommendations);


launched a research in Scotland on the uptake of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland typified by significant gender segregation, with ethnic minorities and disabled people also appearing to have low levels of access to all forms of apprenticeships. This project examined the most recent data for employment programmes for women and men, ethnic minorities, disabled people, LGBT people, people of faith or belief and on the basis of age, and explore the extent to which Government - and industry - pressure and funding can contribute to more equalised outcomes for all.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

assisted a man in a religious discrimination case (victim awarded £15,618 compensation);

launched:

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