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Presentation on theme: "An Equality Body’s Perspective EQUINET EUROPEAN NETWORK OF EQUALITY BODIES & THE CENTRE FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNIES AND OPPOSITION TO RACISM (Belgian equality."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Equality Body’s Perspective EQUINET EUROPEAN NETWORK OF EQUALITY BODIES & THE CENTRE FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNIES AND OPPOSITION TO RACISM (Belgian equality body) Annelies Decat, Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism


3 Equinet – the European Network of Equality Bodies Network of specialised equality bodies (38 members from 31 European countries) Specialised equality bodies on the basis of EC Equal Treatment Directives (2000/43/EC; 2004/113/EC; 2006/54/EC), in line with UN Paris Principles and ECRI Policy Recommendation on Specialised Bodies Diversity among national equality bodies in terms of size, mandate, grounds, structure and experience

4 Functions of Equality Bodies Functions laid down in EU directives: – Independent assistance to victims of discrimination – Independent surveys and reports concerning discrimination – Recommendations on discrimination issues – Exchange of information with European bodies Wider functions taken on by Equality Bodies: awareness raising, promotion of good practices

5 Equality Bodies working on LGBTI issues (I) Equinet perspective on ‘Equality Bodies Combating Discrimination against and Promoting Equality for LGBTI People’ Context / Operating environment: –an hostile context (e.g. hate crime and speech) poses dilemmas for equality bodies: how to improve the context and protect individuals from retribution Under-reporting: –Few complaints to equality bodies on LGBTI issues. On hate crime/speech lack of legislation and mandate to equality bodies. Tactics: –cooperation with LGBTI organisations –ripple effect of casework; –research and awareness raising.

6 Equality Bodies working on LGBTI issues (II) Internal challenges: –Different levels of independence and effectiveness of equality bodies –Prioritarisation on other foci in case of limited resources Diversity of the LGBTI group –Need attention to differences as gender, multiple discrimination, appartenance to the LGBTI communities; specificities of trans and intersex issues.

7 Conclusions – lessons learnt on how to enhance the context (I) Closing gaps in EU and national legislation to respond to discriminating experiences of LGBTI people, and providing mandate to equality bodies for assisting them (e.g. outside the employment field; hate crime and speech). Strategic framework to advance equality: national strategies to advance equality for LGBTI people have proven valuable tools.

8 Conclusions – lessons learnt on how to enhance the context (II) Public sector duties: statutory duties on public sector institutions to promote equality. Specific focus on trans people and intersex people recognising a distinct experience of discrimination Funding to equality bodies to enable them support their work on LGBTI people Data: close data deficits Cooperation between equality bodies to share good practices.

9 The Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition against Racism

10 An independent public body Founded by law in 1993 Missions: 1.To promote equal opportunities and to combat discrimination and exclusion 2.To ensure the basis rights of foreigners + to map migratory flows 3.To promote the struggle against human trafficking and smuggling The work of the Belgian Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism

11 Tasks: Treatment of queries and complaints about discrimination or the fundamental rigths of foreigners Information and awareness raising Opinions and (policy) recommendations

12 The Centre in figures In 2012, the Centre received a total of 5,118 complaints. 83% discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes; 17% fundamental rights of foreigners. The 4,226 complaints relating to alleged occurrences of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes led to 1,315 case files being opened. Legal action in 5 cases of discrimination; 46 case files led to negotiated solutions. It also associated in court action with the public prosecutor in 5 cases of human trafficking and 16 cases of trade in human beings. Information sessions (< ½ day) to the tune of 293 hours and training sessions (min ½ day) to the tune of 1,847 hours, reaching 8,207 people. 45 opinions & recommendations: 17 discrimination/equal opportunities, 9 migration, 19 trafficking. 102.51 full-time equivalent employees (FTE). 8 international partnerships: Equinet, FRA, NPC INT, National Contact Point EMN, ECRI, ODIHR, Informal Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, UN. Annual Activity and Management Report

13 Sexual orientation: Belgian context 1996: first Pride in Brussels 1998: civil partnership 2003: same sex mariage 2003: anti discrimination law (1st version) 2004: same sex mariage for Belgians & foreigners 2006: adoption 2007: anti discrimination law (2nd version)

14 LGB work of the Centre: queries and complaints

15 LGB Work of the Centre: information and awareness raising Brochures, leaflets, Pride, website, local workshops, … Commissioning research: homophobic attitudes, violence, education, work floor, alternative measures,… Collaboration with the police: training, brochure, checklists, circular, … Contacts with NGOs

16 Hate speech: monitoring cyberhate Cyber hate Hotline; launched in 2006 in order to respond to the rise of racism and xenophobia on the Internet. Awareness raising activities (in schools, on demand, but also for police and justice) ; Advice and recommendations for policy makers, justice and practitioners.

17 The daily work of the hotline has shown that there is a huge willingness of users to complain about online hate mongers. In 2010 the Centre monitored more than 600 complaints of online hate and discrimination, found by Internet users or staff on websites, web forums, in guest books, chat sessions, video clips or music files; The Centre reports a huge growth of hate videos on social network sites, on web logs and in chain mails. Anti-Semitic expressions and especially hate against Muslims is on the rise. Cyber Hate Hotline

18 Instruments to tackle cyber hate Three Belgian laws underpin the fight against online hate speech: – the ANTI-RACISM LAW, or the law of July 30 1981 to punish certain crimes inspired by racism or xenophobia (amended by the law of May 10 2007); –the ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, or the law of May 10 2007 for fighting certain types of discrimination;  forbid persons to ‘incite to’ discrimination, segregation, hatred or violence against persons or groups of persons based on certain qualities (nationality, so- called ‘race’, skin color…). Malicious intention of the author is very important in the qualification of the concept ‘incitment’! –the LAW AGAINST NEGATIONISM, or the law of March 23 1995 to punish the denial, minimization, justification or approval of the genocide committed by the German national socialist regime during the Second World War

19 1. Notice and take down What? Author is informed and motivated to take action to remove illicit material Effective? Yes, because: The Belgian constitutional system of cascading liability for press offences makes it possible for internet service providers to be held liable for racist statements and hate speech on their servers Website administrators and owners of forums or blogs are increasingly often taking the initiative of imposing a code of conduct on their users (contains provisions about racism and xenophobia) Web forums and newsgroups, hate videos on web 2.0 communities and trans-national neo-Nazi platforms are often hosted abroad so we jump over national law. Refusing to remove could be an indication for malicious intentions Succesful way of mediation  95% of cases solved!

20 2. Countering hateful chain mails Most complaints concern hateful chain mails –Sent to us by ‘general’ internet users, by seniors, employers, users who receive chain mails from friends and family… who look for counter actions without having to trace the original author or to action against the ‘mail friend’ –We provide ‘evidenced based analysis’, ‘discourse analysis’, content analyses and facts and figures –List of analyses can be consulted on our website –Strong counter action!

21 3. Legal action In case of … –requests for removal are not acted upon –Link with hate crime actions in real life –Indication of malicious intent to spread hate, violence, … The Centre has in its mission the possibility to file a complaint with the police or the public prosecutor Doing so, we work together with a bailiff (an officer of the court who is employed to execute writs and processes and make arrests)

22 Examples of legal action -Neo-Nazi groups: currently we have a pending case about a neo-Nazi group: Bloed-Bodem-Eer en Trouw (Blood-Earth-Honor-Fidelity) -Three members of the Belgian Blood and Honour were convicted for organizing an ss Memorial concert.  internet was used for overall communication to contact allies all over Europe and to spread practical information

23 Sharia4Belgium: Islam extremist group did an interview on TV and published it on their website →interview incites to hatred against homosexuals → We qualifed the facts as violating anti discrimination law and transfered a documented and analyzed complaint to the public prosecutor Examples of legal action

24 Conclusions? Mandate Network (ex. INACH, Equinet) It is a process of trial and error; evolution of hate speech requires new strategies Freedom of expression is crucial, even when statements are shocking, disturbing or offensive Dialogue and debate Shared responsibility (counter speech)

25 Contacts Facebook: search and like “Equinet Europe” Twitter: follow @equineteurope EQUINET SECRETARIAT 138 Rue Royale / Koningsstraat B-1000 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32 (0)2 212 3182 Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition against Racism Annelies Decat: 138 Rue Royale / Koningsstraat B-1000 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32 (0)2 212 30 00


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