Sunday, 31 December 2017

Anti-Discrimination Coalition Submitted Remarks and Suggestions Relating to the Draft Law on Gender Equality

At the invitation of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Anti-Discrimination Coalition, with Praxis being one of its members, submitted remarks and suggestions relating to the latest Draft Law on Gender Equality. 

The general objection made by the members of the Anti-Discrimination Coalition referred to the almost complete absence of a gender identity component. In addition, the Law does not mention sexual orientation at all, which does not contribute to a greater compliance of this regulation with European standards. 

Gender-based discrimination is defined as "any differentiation or unequal treatment or failure to treat (exclusion, restriction or prioritising), in an open or covert manner, in relation to persons or groups of persons, as well as members of their families or close persons, based on gender or sex, in political, educational, economic, social, cultural, sports and other spheres of social life“. 

However, the definition of gender excludes gender identity, since according to the Draft Law "gender signifies socially determined roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that society finds appropriate for women and men.” In this way, transgender and intersex persons are excluded from the Law, as well as non-binary persons, and a dilemma arises as to who determines what is appropriate for society and in which way.

Regarding the definitions of discrimination and special measures for achieving equality, this Draft Law does not contain any shortcomings related to the compliance with the EU directives dealing with the protection from discrimination, which are included in the Law on Protection against Discrimination. In fact, the definition of indirect discrimination is fully harmonised with EU directives. Inciting discrimination is defined as a form of discriminatory act. Special measures for achieving and promoting gender equality are of a temporary character, since it is emphasised that "special measures are applied until the prescribed aim of their determination and implementation is achieved," which is in line with international standards.

As regards judicial protection in a civil procedure initiated by a person and a group of persons subjected to gender discrimination, the Law states that it is exercised in accordance with the law regulating the prohibition of discrimination. This provision seems to be adequate, since it does not "duplicate" the system of protection and does not call into question the civil society organisations’ standing to commence an action. The associations that have defined the activities of assistance and support to victims of violence within their programmes are allowed to provide free legal aid.

The members of the Anti-Discrimination Coalition are: Centre for the Advancement of Legal Studies  - CUPS, Civil Rights Defenders, Gayten-LGBT, Equality, Labris - Organisation for Lesbian Human Rights, Network of Committees for Human Rights in Serbia CHRIS, Association of Students with Disabilities and Praxis.  

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action