Combating racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance
• Pleased that the Conference of Presidents decided to include the Oral Question on racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance on the plenary agenda.
• Welcome the first EU Colloquium on Fundamental Rights organised by the European Commission’s Vice-President Frans Timmermans on 1-2 October 2015 on the issue of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and the second EU Colloquium on Fundamental Rights that takes place this month on Media Pluralism and Democracy.
• Encouraged by the European Commission setting up a High Level Group on Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance as well as the signing of the EU Code of Conduct with social media companies to counter illegal hate speech online.
• Welcome the European Parliament amending the Rules of Procedures to increase sanctions against MEPs that engage in hate speech.
• The issues of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance are topical given the rise in discrimination and racist crimes against people from minority groups and migrants. Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance are connected and are often intersectional.
• The rise of different forms of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.
• European leaders need to act immediately to tackle racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance. Brexit, recent election results and rising hate crimes demonstrate the need to take the issue seriously and put forward concrete legislation and policies.
• Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance should never be accepted or normalised and political leaders must lead by example and not pander to populists and the far right. e.g. Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s speech in Hamburg where he made racist, homophobic and sexist comments.
• According to official hate crime data for 2014, civil society organisations reported more than four thousand bias-motivated incidents against Christians, Muslims, Jews, Roma, LGBTI people and people with disabilities.
• The UN launched its Decade for People of African Descent because of the multiple, aggravated or intersecting forms of discrimination people of African descent face.
• France has seen a rise of 18% of Islamophobic violence from 2014 to 2015 (CCIF – http://www.islamophobie.net/sites/default/files/CCIF-Annual-Report-2015.pdf)
• Racial discrimination is the highest reported motivation for hate crime in England/Wales and Scotland (Equality and Human Rights Commission). Home Office data in the UK shows that Overall there was an increase of hate crimes of 19% 2015-16 compared with 2014-15.
• According to the FRA 2013 survey report on Discrimination and hate crime against Jews in EU Member States, 66% of respondents felt that anti-Semitism is a major problem in their country.
• Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance are the products of different histories and ideologies but are specific forms of discrimination based on people’s real or perceived belonging to various minority groups and should be equally addressed.
• Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance can be expressed in the form of policies and practices, including by verbal and physical attacks, threats, harassment, property damage, graffiti or other hate speech, including on social media and more broadly on the internet.
• Individuals from various minority groups continue to be systematically discriminated against in fields such as education, employment, housing, health care and democratic participation.
• Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance can be perpetrated by state and non-state actors or both.
• Racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist and other forms of intolerant stereotyping and stigmatisation continues to be a reality in Member States. These phenomena allow violence, discrimination and hate speech against minority groups to be normalised in European Union society.
• The intersectionality between different forms of discrimination and gender discrimination needs to be taken into consideration.
• Racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist and other forms of intolerant speeches are often openly expressed, including in the media and by some political parties.
• Expression of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance on the internet especially on social media is on the rise.
• The common nature of racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist and other forms of intolerant prejudices which contribute to social exclusion, discrimination, and sometimes even violence must be dealt with through formal and non-formal education systems. They should also be addressed through an effective implementation of EU- and national legislation that prohibits hate speech and violence and discrimination.
• NGOs and organisations that advocate on behalf of minority groups continue to be targeted by state actors and the shrinking space for NGOs and organisations needs to be addressed.
• Welcome the appointment of two coordinators on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism announced by Vice-President Timmermans. However, there needs to be the appointment of coordinators on Anti-Gypsyism, Afrophobia, LGBTI, gender and disability, accompanied by a clear articulation of the role and competences of each coordinator.
• The role of these coordinators should be
– to ensure that the EU reacts swiftly in serious cases of attacks or systemic discrimination targeting these minority groups by calling Member States to redress the situation and reminding the EU fundamental rights standards and legislation they should abide to;
– to ensure that issues related to these groups are understood and mainstreamed in the relevant EU institutions. Permanent work and consultation with civil society groups coming from these groups are therefore necessary.
• Call for measures that mainstream anti-discrimination policies along all four areas of education, healthcare, employment and housing as well as for specific measures including funding, indicators and monitoring mechanisms as part of a new anti-discrimination strategy.
• Call on Member States to adopt the European Union Equal Treatment Directive which would cover discrimination on the grounds not covered by the Racial Equality Directive.
• Call for further implementation and strengthening of EU and national legal basis to tackle hate crime and to ensure investigation and prosecution of racist crimes.
• Call for the implementation of the Framework Decision and for infringement procedures against Member States for not applying the Framework Decision.
• Call for the Commission to put forward proposals to update and strengthen the Framework Decision to cover all grounds in line with the Victim Crimes Directive.
• Call for harmonised reliable equality data collection methods in line with fundamental rights and privacy standards as well as strengthening methods of reporting and recording of incidents.
• Stress the important role that political leaders and media can play in combating racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism and other forms of intolerance.
• Take measures ensuring that hate speech from media and political leaders are strongly condemned.
• Call for increased diversity within the staff of the European Institutions and for the inclusion of individuals from minority communities when creating legislation and policies that affect their groups.