AZ EGY BÁN GYA HOW TO PUT EQUALITY INTO PRACTICE? - MEK

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AZ EGY BÁN GYA HOW TO PUT EQUALITY INTO PRACTICE? - MEK

IV. Putting equality into practiceMaybe it is easier for you to start by saying: “Look, we have a law andsomeone will be discriminated against if you don’t do anything.” Sostarting anti-discrimination by threatening with the law, maybe that couldbe the right thing for you to do in your situation and then, when peopleare listening, you talk about other things. (A. S.)The law provides structures, procedures that people can use. They cango to a commission or to an authority or to a court, or just to theiremployer and say: “Well, here it says that you should do A, you havedone B, so there is something wrong here. You should change it.” Someemployers will then say: “Yes, I will then do the other thing.” (K. W.)We [ACCEPT, Romanian NGO] have the legal right to defend[represent] someone in court, which means that we can defend [represent]a group of persons or a community which is extremely important. So thisanti-discrimination legislation is crucial for defending and promoting ourrights at the same time. I can give you a case. Recently we noticed thatthere was a form of negotiation and memorandum established betweenthe Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health attempting toproduce a list of main criteria for which someone can be stopped fromteaching in the public education sector. […] Sexual orientation wasmentioned as such at the beginning, after that they changed it to sexualidentity. They tried to use several different phrases, but the meaning wassimilar. But we were able use the anti-discrimination framework to putpressure both ministries without suing them. (F. B.)Legal discrimination is a much more tangible asset than socialdiscrimination. It is easier to identify and thus fight against legalgrievances than “amorphous bad feelings” lurking in society:The problem with the end of legal discrimination is that it makes itdifficult for people to target exactly what is wrong. If the mayor ofBudapest or Sofia says “I don’t like gay or lesbian people” then it is veryclear cut what you have to do. But in the Netherlands very few people willbe explicitly anti-homosexual and against gay or lesbian rights. Peopleknow that they cannot do that any more. Social discrimination exists buthas become very covert, but it has not disappeared. […] It makes it verydifficult for gays and lesbians to fight for gay and lesbian rights. So if youhave Bush saying that he doesn’t want same-sex marriage that is an easytarget. If you have an army that says it won’t allow openly gay and lesbianpeople into the army then that is a clear cut target. If you have Buttiglioniwho says homosexuality is a sin, then you have an easy target. (G. H.)Law can – and should – reflect and promote social change, but it isfar from being the only or the main force of change. Law can be89

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