transdada

poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Sunday, July 11, 2004

[lgbt-india] Euro Letter # 114



LATVIAN MPS DELETE SEXUAL ORIENTATION FROM ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILL
By Juris Lavrikovs

In March 2004, the Latvian Minister for Special Assign-ment for
Society Integration Affairs proposed an Anti-Discrimination Bill,
which would implement the re-quirements of the EU race and
employment equality di-rective

(2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC) and contained a proposal to ban sexual
orientation discrimination.

However, after the Bill had been submitted to parliament, the
parliamentary Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission, which is
responsible for the Bill, amended it and deleted the ban on sexual
orientation discrimina-tion. The Bill has its second reading this
autumn.

The Parliamentary Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission is
notorious for its anti-gay stance: since 1995 the Commission has
rejected numerous proposals from the Latvian lesbian and gay
organisation, the Lat-vian National Human Rights Office and the
Welfare Minister to ban sexual orientation discrimination and in
1999 the commission rejected the Registered Partnership Bill.

This recent amendment to the Anti-Discrimination Bill by the
Commission, deleting an explicit ban on sexual orientation
discrimination, directly contradicts Latvia's obligation under EU
law. Since 1 May 2004 Latvia has
been an official member of the European Union and is under the
obligation to ban sexual orientation discrimina-tion in employment.
Latvian lesbian, gay and bisexual workers are under real threat from
discrimination: Euro-pean and national polls reveal that the Latvian
population is one of the most homophobic in the European Union and
the 2002 report `Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Lithuania,
Latvia and Estonia' (www.discrimination.gay.lv) demonstrated that in
Latvia:

- 2.6% individuals who completed the questionnaire had lost their
job because of their sexuality;
- 9.3% had encountered attempts to sack them because of their
sexuality;
- 6.7% reported having been dismissed from a job be-cause of their
sexuality;
- 17% had encountered harassment at the workplace;
- 58% felt their sexuality had to be kept hidden in any job.

An explanation from members of the Parliamentary Hu-man Rights and
Public Affairs Commission as to why such amendments deleting sexual
orientation discrimina-tion have taken place have been requested and
over this summer all efforts will be concentrated on ensuring that
the ban on sexual orientation discrimination is reinstated.
Nevertheless the chance that such a ban will be reinstated or
supported is `near to nil' according to Boriss Cilevics, a member of
the Human Rights and Public Affairs Com-mission of the Latvian
parliament. Mr Cilevics, who represents the left-wing People's
Harmony Party, sup-ports an explicit ban on sexual orientation
discrimination but does not believe the commission will comply. He
has suggested that a complaint against Latvia to the European Court
of Justice might be the most effective way to achieve implementation
of directive 2000/78/EC.

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