Members of European Parliament and Non-Governmental Organizations Gather to Advocate for Equal Treatment Directive at Open Mic Event

19 September 2018

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and citizens gathered on 5 September, 2018 for an open mic event to mark the 10th year anniversary of the proposal of the Equal Treatment Directive. Organizations such as the European Disability Forum, the LGBTI Intergroup, the ARDI Intergroup, the Youth Intergroup, the Children Rights’ Intergroup, and many others gathered outside the European Parliament in Brussels, on the Esplanade Solidarnosc, to call for the Directive to finally be adopted.

The Equal Treatment Directive aims to protect EU citizens against discrimination in all areas of life– whether it be disability, age, sexual orientation, or religious belief. The directive was presented by the European Commission in 2008 but is still being blocked by the Council.

Many MEPs and NGO representatives were hopeful that the Council would soon move forward with the Equal Treatment Directive.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, underlined the need for equality in Europe. He stated,

We need to make an anti-discrimination movement in Europe. We need to join forces. European legislation on non-discrimination will not be given to us

.

The event reinforced Europe’s urgent need to foster equality by working across the political spectrum. Vardakastanis urged Member States to “stop hiding behind each other” and work across all governments and institutions for anti-discrimination action.

Brando Benifei, MEP, vice-President of the Disability Intergroup and co-chair of the Youth Intergroup, and, invited the EU to celebrate its diversity by delivering on the Equal Treatment Directive after 10 years of stalling.

MEP Benifei said,

The European Union needs to be an example in fighting discrimination at all levels, in all cases, in all situations. We can do this if governments and Parliaments unite together to find solutions.

I can tell you from many people with disabilities that [they] are still not included in the society,

said Carmen Clemente, from the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

MEP Helga Stevens said,

I fully support the fight for the Equal Treatment Directive….I’m against all kinds of discrimination.

MEPs and NGO representatives alike remarked that the time is now to end discrimination in Europe.

When you treat a person in an equal way to the others, it's an advance for everyone,

insisted MEP Benifei.

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