Tough European plans on discrimination - 02 July 2008 - From Matthijs Nieuwenhuis

The European Union aims to forbid discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, religion, age and disability.

Anti-discrimination rules have so far only been implemented in the workplace. Now, discrimination in issuing insurance policies, Anti-discriminationlending mortgages and renting homes is being tackled.

European Equal Opportunities Commissioner Vladimir Spidla says 15 percent of the EU's population has experienced discrimination due to age, religion, disability or sexual preference and it is important to do something about it.

"Millions of people come across discrimination in their daily lives. There is still inequality because people are only protected against discrimination on the grounds of race, sex and origin. We must make sure everyone's treated fairly."

Discrimination more difficult

An example is the Polish homosexual who won a trip to Spain, but who was denied his prize after making it clear he wanted to be accompanied by his male partner. This sort of incident will become illegal if the European plans go ahead.

People will no longer be able to be refused insurance policies, mortgages and hotel rooms because of their religion, age, sexuality or disability. Dutch Green Left MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg calls it a big step: "Of course, this will not mean the end of discrimination, but people will be able to cite the regulations and take legal action. This will bring about a practical change in the equal opportunities situation. So it's really an important step."

Doorsteps and stairs

Doorsteps and stairs will have to be removed from shops so that disabled people can enter. This will be subject to what is considered ‘reasonable': the costs involved; how many disabled people use the premises; whether other (...)