Romania: Senate rejects Draft Bill aiming to repeal Anti-Discrimination Law and disable the Equality Body

On 28 February 2017, a bill aiming to repeal Romanian Anti-discrimination Law was tacitly adopted by the Romanian Chamber of Deputies. If this bill had been adopted, it would seriously have affected the National Council for Combatting Discrimination (CNCD). However, on 14 March, the Senate decided not to accept the draft law.

Threat to Romanian equality body

The draft law called 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 supported 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 on 28 February by the Chamber of Deputies – “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.

On the 14 March the proposal was denied by a strong majority of votes in the Senate (101) in line with the CNCD opinion.

Importance of strong independent equality bodies

Even if the bill was rejected in the Senate, the case shows an example of a serious and possibly damaging attack on the Romanian equality body. 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.

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