aditus foundation is pleased to present its feedback on the Equality Bill, as presented by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties (MSDC) on 10 December, 2015.
The Bill seeks to consolidate equality and anti-discrimination legislation currently in force, whilst also revising the list of anti-discrimination grounds and including new provisions relating to intersectional discrimination, third party interventions and positive duties.
Our submissions can be downloaded here (.pdf).
A comprehensive national framework that encompasses anti-discrimination legislation and supporting policies is crucial to mainstreaming and integrating people belonging to the various minority groups that exist within our society, such as gender and sexual minorities, religious minorities, racial or ethnic minorities, persons with a disability, age minorities and the like.
Minority groups face daily discrimination in education, employment, accessing goods and services, access to housing and healthcare, in the neighbourhood, in the use of public transport, when approaching public officers and authorities, in accessing places of entertainment and also in places of worship.
Although minority groups face discrimination in various spheres of life the number of complaints filed with the various existing equality bodies remains low. This could be attributed to a number of factors, such as lack of information, procedures being too burdensome, lack of specialised legal support and fear.
The current legal framework is piecemeal and is found in various legal instruments, each having a different scope (in some instances overlapping), a variety of actions for redress and different reporting or equality bodies.
This illustrates the complexity of both the legal framework and the procedural elements involved, resulting in the enormous difficulties that individuals and their legal advisors face when filing a complaint.
In view of the above:
- The creation of one equality body to which individuals can file a complaint in relation to prohibited grounds of discrimination is a positive step. Nevertheless, there needs to be clarity on the relationship and interplay between the Human Rights and Equality Commission
- and other equality bodies, such as the Ombudsman, the National Commission Persons with Disability and the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations;
- The consolidation of laws into one harmonised Equality Act, which includes standard definitions and procedures, was long overdue and can only better the possibilities for redress for those persons who feel aggrieved. It, however, remains unclear which laws will be consolidated into the recast Equality Act and which laws will be repealed.
- The Act should reflect and make reference to Malta’s international obligations under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the European Social Charter.