London, 28 July 2014
Last week, the Equal Rights Trust (ERT) and its partner, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), convened a roundtable meeting on equality law reform in Minsk, Belarus. Leading civil society representatives discussed and agreed the recommendations made in a concept paper setting out the key substantive and procedural elements of a future national equality law, in line with established international law and best practice.

On 10 July 2014, Suriname’s National Assembly passed the Draft Law on Nationality and Residency (“the Law”), amending Law No. 4 of 24 November 1975 on Surinamese Nationality and Residence.

Yesterday (13 July) the office of Zhengzhou Yirenping was raided by police for the second time in a month. The Chinese authorities first raided the premises on 17 June, seizing computers and interrogating staff about the organisation's work with human rights defenders.

London, 11 July 2014

On 1 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued its judgment in S.A.S. v France, in which it considered a French law in force since 2011 which bans the concealment of one’s face in public. The applicant, a Muslim woman who sometimes wears a niqab or burqa in public, complained that the law violated her rights to respect for her private life, freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination, amongst others, under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). In a controversial and unwelcome decision, the Court found no violation of Convention rights, holding that the restriction placed on the applicant’s religious freedom and private life by the law could be justified by a desire to guarantee that everyone can “live together” in society.

2 July 2014 
On 18 June, an overwhelming majority of Luxembourg’s national legislative body, the Chambre des Députés, approved Bill No. 6172A legalising same-sex marriage. Luxembourg now joins a growing number of countries which recognise equal rights to marriage regardless of sexual orientation, becoming the 18th country to legalise same-sex marriage. New Zealand, France, Uruguay, England and Scotland all recently passed legislation to provide equal rights to marry. 

London, 26 June 2014 

On 11 June 2014, at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict was launched. The Protocol is the product of a global consultation and aims to provide important guidance to “human rights and justice actors”. Although not binding, it is hoped that the Protocol will help to tackle this invidious and discriminatory crime of war.

London, 9 June 2014

On 23 May 2014, following the conclusion of its 52nd session, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee) published its concluding observations on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) by Ukraine. In its comments on Ukraine’s anti-discrimination record, the Committee echoed a number of the recommendations made in an ERT shadow report which focused on the need for Ukraine to reform its anti-discrimination legislation and take steps to combat discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

London, 22 May 2014

On 8 May, in the wake of the abduction of more than two hundred schoolgirls in Nigeria, a bi-partisan group of Senators reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), which has been rejected twice before, to the US Senate. 

London, 19 May 2014

On 7 May, the Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination came into force after being signed by Georgia’s President Margvelashvili.  The enactment of the Law is to be strongly welcomed as it moves Georgia’s anti-discrimination framework closer towards the standards required by international law. There is some room for improvement in the final text.