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European Equality Legislation: People falling through the gaps

EU discrimination law doesn’t account for cases of multiple discrimination.
EU law falls very short of protecting Europeans that suffer multiple forms of discrimination, such has children and older persons with disabilities, or persons with disabilities that are LGBTI+ or part of ethnic minorities.
As the European Network of National Equality Bodies, Equinet stands together with persons with disabilities to fight for equality for everyone in Europe.


This is the conclusion of EDF’s third European Human Rights report, which analyses how European countries are guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities. The report concludes that while, most EU countries do have laws to protect from discrimination these laws are either not well applied, or don’t go far enough. It also concludes that “piecemeal” equality legislation (different laws for different minorities) results in lack of protection for persons with disabilities that are also part of other protected groups (children, older persons, LGBTI, ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers for example).

The report calls on the EU to adopt a broad an ambitious legislation that protects all people from all forms of discrimination. Such legislation was never adopted, despite years of calls by several anti-discrimination groups, including Equinet.

The report recommends that:

  1. The EU should harmonise equality standards through the adoption of a broad and ambitious EU legislation prohibiting discrimination.
  2. EU and Member States should repeal all discriminatory laws and eliminate discriminatory practices.
  3. The EU and Member States need to combat all forms of discrimination on the grounds of disabilities. They need to tackle discrimination of persons with disabilities that also belong to other minorities (women and girls, children, older persons, asylum seekers and refugees, LGBTI).
  4. The EU needs to ensure that non-discrimination and accessibility are ensured in the use of EU funds
  5. Persons with disabilities need to be continuously involved in all that impacts them
  6. The EU and Member States need to collect more data relating to persons with disabilities.
  7. The EU and Member States need to provide more training on reasonable accommodation applicable to all areas of life.
  8. Legal aid, legal action and compensation should be available to persons with disabilities that are victims of discrimination. Equality bodies should receive the mandate, independence and necessary resources to inform and assist individuals in their discrimination claims.

At the request of EDF, Equinet Chair Tena Šimonović Einwalter wrote a forward to this report which focuses particularly on European disability legislation, the role of equality bodies in promoting equality for persons with disabilities at national level and a call for the EU to adopt a more ambitious European Disability Strategy after 2020 to achieve meaningful change for disabled citizens, supported by strong financial means.

She adds: “There needs to be more of a focus on multiple discrimination, multiple identities and in particular intersectionality when tackling underreporting and advocating for legislative change. This will enable a better understanding of and a more effective response to the real-life experiences of people experiencing discrimination, as well as addressing issues of structural discrimination. We all – the EU and Member States, equality bodies and civil society organizations – need to work together towards achieving equality and ensuring non-discrimination for everyone in all aspects of their lives. This way, everyone can be empowered to fully participate in society and have equal access to existing opportunities in Europe.”

Via EDF Press Release

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