Legislation Watch

Important Recommendations for Achieving Equality for Roma Adopted by EU Council

London, 23 December 2013

On 9 December 2013, the Council of the European Union unanimously adopted the “Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures in the Member States”. This is an important development in Europe, where the Roma continue to face widespread prejudice, discrimination and social exclusion. The Recommendation signifies a necessary and welcome commitment from the EU to taking action to tackle the inequality and discrimination faced by the Roma in Europe and, in particular, to addressing their socio-economic exclusion.

Uruguay, New Zealand and France Become Latest States to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage

London, 25 April 2013

Three states have recently joined the progressive trend towards recognising in law the equal right to marry regardless of sexual orientation. On 10 April 2013, Uruguay became the second country in South America to legalise same-sex marriage, after Argentina. On 18 April 2013 New Zealand became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so. And on 23 April 2013, France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage. In Uruguay and New Zealand new legislation permitting same-sex marriage was passed by an overwhelming majority of parliamentary votes whilst in France the legislation proved extremely divisive, with numerous protests and a closer vote of 331-225.

ERT Concerned about Remaining Discrimination in Same Sex Marriage Bill

London, 28 February 2013
On 5 February, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 (the Bill) received its Second Reading in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. The Bill opens up access to the institution of marriage to same sex couples through civil ceremonies and allows religious organisations to “opt in” to conducting same sex marriage. In a submission to the Parliamentary Committee (the Committee) considering the Bill, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has welcomed the Bill, but called on the Committee to make further improvements.

Human Rights Committee Finds Discrimination in Conjunction with Violation of Freedom of Expression

London, 3 December 2012

The Human Rights Committee in a communication issued during its 106th session found the Russian Federation to have acted in violation of Articles 19 (Freedom of Expression) and 26 (Prohibition of Discrimination) of the ICCPR. The case concerned the treatment of LGBT human rights activist Irina Fedotova, who was arrested by the police and fined by a Russian Administrative Court on grounds that she breached legislation on “public actions aimed at the propaganda of homosexuality among minors” after having displayed posters promoting tolerance towards homosexuality near a local school.

New Legislation Provides for Full Recognition of Self-defined Gender Identity

London, 24 May 2012 
On 9 May 2012, the Argentine Senate unanimously passed the Gender Identity Act. The new law has been hailed as the most progressive and liberal in the world. Recognising that a person's subjectively felt and self-defined gender may or may not correspond with the gender assigned at birth, the Law establishes the right to change one's registered gender and name on demand, without requiring any form of medical procedure or hormone therapy as a pre-condition. 
The law also provides a right to access any desired medical treatment at no extra cost. In addition, the Law grants all people in Argentina the right to be treated in accordance with their gender identity and to be identified as such in all identity documents and registers. 

ERT Urges Moldova to Re-instate Sexual Orientation and Other Grounds in Draft Equality Law

London, 21 May 2012

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has urged the government of the Republic of Moldova to call a halt to the process of adopting a draft Law on Equal Opportunities (the Draft Law). In a letter to Moldovan Prime Minister, Vlad Filat, of 17 May, ERT recommended critical amendments to the Draft Law in order to ensure that it is consistent with Moldova’s obligations under international law.

In particular, ERT’s letter expressed grave concerns over three changes made to the Draft Law since publication of the previous version, entitled the Law on Preventing and Combating Discrimination in October 2011. ERT’s concerns relate to:

Criminal Law Amendments to Protect Women and Children Passed by Pakistani Parliament

On 12 December 2011, the Pakistani Parliament passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill and the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill. Both Bills provide for amendments to be made to the Pakistan Penal Code 1860. The amendments seek to protect women and children against acid attacks and prevent other practices which discriminate against women, including forced marriages.

Vested Properties Return (Amendment) Bill 2011 Passed by Bangladeshi Parliament

On 28 November 2011, the Bangladeshi Parliament (Jatiya Sangsad) passed the Vested Properties Return (Amendment) Bill 2011 (The Bill), reported BSS News (the National News Agency of Bangladesh).  The new legislation provides for the return of property seized under the Enemy Property Act 1968 (the 1968 Act). 
Under the 1968 Act, which was later renamed the Vested Properties Act, the government was empowered to seize lands and properties from individuals whom it deemed to be an enemy of the state. It is widely claimed that the 1968 Act was used to discriminate against various minorities, including, in particular, Hindus who had migrated to India. 

The UK Does Not Need a New Bill of Rights but Should Join Protocol 12 ECHR

London 11 November 2011

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) has responded today to the Commission on a Bill of Rights Discussion Paper entitled Do we need a UK Bill of Rights? The Commission was established to investigate the creation of a UK Bill of Rights and this Discussion Paper marked the beginning of the process of public consultation on this issue.