Czech Republic Becomes Last EU State to Adopt Anti-discrimination Law

London, 25 June 2009

On 17 June 2009 the Czech Republic adopted anti-discrimination legislation which guarantees the right to equal treatment and bans discrimination in areas including access to employment, business, education, healthcare and social security on the grounds of sex, age, disability, race, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and faith or worldview. The passing of the Anti-Discrimination Act by the Czech Chamber of Deputies was a necessary step to avoid legal proceedings by the European Commission for failing to implement the obligations contained in the EU Race Equality Directive (Council Directive 2000/43/EC) and the Employment Equality Directive (Council Directive 2000/78/EC).

On 16 May 2008 the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, vetoed the passing of the anti-discrimination bill which delayed its adoption for over a year. President Klaus justified his veto on the basis that existing legal protection against discrimination in the Czech Republic was adequate. On 30 May 2008, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) wrote to Miloslav Vlèek, the Chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies, expressing its concern over these developments and urging him and his Chamber colleagues to adopt the anti-discrimination bill, by overturning the President’s veto.

In its letter ERT put forward clear arguments which supported the contention that new anti-discrimination legislation was needed and that the existing system was insufficient due to: (i) the lack of a legal definition of forms of discrimination; (ii) the non-protection against discrimination in certain fields of activity, such as education, social security, and access to health; and (iii) the lack of a specialised body to protect against discrimination.  In June 2009, the President’s veto was overturned with the support of 118 MPs of the Chamber of Deputies.

Speaking about the development, ERT Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova said:

“The Czech Republic is the last country in the EU to adopt specific anti-discrimination legislation to implement the requirements of the equality Directives.

“The new Czech anti-discrimination law meets the minimum requirements of the EC directives, but the delay in adopting this legislation means that the stakeholders have lost out, having been left with insufficient protection against discrimination for a number of years.

”In the meantime, the European Court of Justice has handed down several progressive judgments relating to the Directives in recent years, which should guide policy and judicial decisions. ERT regards the transposition of the EC Directives as just the first step, and in the coming years will be monitoring the effective implementation of the equality principles they have established.”

To see ERT's letter to Miloslav Vlèek, the Chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies, click here.

To VOTE FOR EQUALITY and sign the Declaration of Principles on Equality, click here.