Discrimination

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Citizenship report shows LGBT community still face discrimination

The European Parliament has adopted its latest annual report on implementation of rights for European citizens under EU law. One of the issues highlighted was the barriers that still exist for same-sex couples.

The report demands full freedom of movement with recognition of legal rights for same-sex couples and an end to Member States' obstruction of a 2004 EU law meant to achieve this.

Sarah Ludford, Vice President of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrat group commented:

“Due to disarray in the ranks of the European Socialist and Democratic group (S&D) to which the Labour party belong, the key relevant paragraph got deleted at committee stage due to the voting power of the right-wing parties.”

UN body rules Sikh turban a human rights issue

The UN Human Rights Committee has this week concluded that France violated the religious freedom of a French resident and Sikh Ranjit Singh by refusing to let him wear his turban for a photograph for a residence card. It has asked the French government to notify by March how it will remedy this human rights breach.

Welcoming the ruling Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"It is shameful that Mr Singh's right to wear his turban was violated by the French authorities. Not only was his religious freedom violated but the denial of the residence card left him unable to access health care and benefits. This must be reversed and if it is not the EU must get involved."

Roma discrimination demands strong EU action

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford a long-time campaigner for equal treatment for the EU's 10 million Roma people plus the 4 million in the Balkans and Turkey has called on International Roma Day (April 8th 2010) for determined EU action to eliminate the continued prejudice discrimination hostility and violence Roma people face and ensure they enjoy equal opportunities.

The second international Roma summit is taking place today in Spain which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency. These summits have their roots in the first major gathering of Roma representatives which took place in London in 1971.

Sarah Ludford said:

International Holocaust day reminder that genocide and torture endure

To mark International Holocaust Remembrance day Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford a member of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel said:

"The European Union created in the aftermath of WWII is based on the pledge that the Holocaust or Shoah must 'never happen again'. But it cannot be said that we are doing everything necessary to stop a repeat."

"Whether in the use of torture in the 'war on terror' harassment of immigrants or racial and religious violence people of the world continue to be at risk of inhuman and illegal treatment even at European hands or when we turn a blind eye."

Council of Europe speaks out against continuing gay discrimination

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is to debate and vote today on a report on equal rights for Europe's LGBT community. The report includes recommendations for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships and the adoption of children in homosexual relationships.

MEP for London Sarah Ludford who is Vice Chair of the Liberal Democrat LGBT group (DELGA) and an active member of the European Parliament lesbian & gay rights intergroup said:

Swiss minarets ban is victory for intolerance and discrimination

Commenting on the popular vote to change the constitution so as to ban the building of minarets in Switzerland Sarah Ludford said:

"This vote is a victory for intolerance discrimination and restriction on freedom of religion and expression."

"It will surely and rightly fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights even though the Strasbourg Court has in my opinion taken some unjustified decisions supporting bans on the wearing by individuals of religious symbols."

"To compare this dismaying vote in Switzerland with the Liberal-led Danish government's refusal to ban the 'Prophet Muhammad' cartoons in

2005 is completely misplaced. That represented the upholding of liberal and democrat values of free speech."

Sarah speaking about equal treatment of persons regardless of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation

Mr President it is clearly right that we end the complicated patchwork of laws with different people protected against discrimination in different situations in favor of a single equality regime. The woman refused a bank loan the disabled person refused access to a building the gay man refused accommodation a black person barred from a club and so on should all be protected on the basis of similar principles.

EU must not let Labour government off hook for discrimination

London MEP Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman has for the third time pushed the European Commission as the watchdog of compliance with EU laws to challenge the UK's record in implementing a directive from 2000.

This generally outlaws discrimination at work on grounds of religion and sexual orientation as well as age and disability but has an opt-out allowing some limited discrimination to continue*. The Commission's latest reply says its analysis of UK transposition of the Directive 'is still on-going' but that it will if necessary 'use its powers to ensure compliance with the EC Treaty should it find that the UK laws go beyond the exceptions allowed under that Directive'.

Sarah Ludford commented:

EU equal treatment law offers protection for elderly

Coinciding with World Elder Abuse Day the European Commission has confirmed that it intends to accept demands by MEPs and make a proposal soon for a far reaching anti-discrimination directive.

This new law will fill in the gaps in the current patchwork of EU measures and will outlaw discrimination against people as consumers of goods and services such as accommodation and healthcare to supplement the existing ban on workplace discrimination. It will extend to people who experience discrimination on grounds of disability age religious belief and sexual orientation the same protection that EU law already gives to those suffering unequal treatment due to race or gender.

EU pressure on US to abolish HIV discrimination intensifies

Since 1993 the US government has denied Visa Waiver to individuals suffering HIV or Aids and has made acquiring a visa very difficult. This arrangement amounts to a near ban on travel to the US for sufferers of HIV and Aids.

This policy is widely considered to be both discriminatory and lacking in any objective justification.

Earlier this year Sarah Ludford MEP raised this matter in the European Parliament and launched a campaign to include the abolition of HIV/Aids discrimination in EU visa negotiations with the US. The petition has collected hundreds of signatures.

As pressure intensifies on the US to abolish its policy Jacques Barrot European Commissioner for Justice has taken this issue up in a letter to Michael Chertoff US Secretary of Homeland Security.

Turkey must not prohibit gay sexual equality rights

London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman has written to the Turkish Ambassador in London calling for a reversal of the recent ruling by an Istanbul court to ban the LGBT organisation Lambdaistanbul.

In her letter Baroness Ludford who is a member of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights says:

"This decision is deeply unhelpful in terms of Turkey's efforts to move towards EU norms of equal opportunities free speech and freedom of association which are also of course embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights to which Turkey already adheres."

Finnish Liberal Equality Leading the Way

Sarah Ludford MEP LibDem Euro-MP for London has welcomed the appointment of a woman Prime Minister and equal numbers of male and female ministers in the new coalition government in Finland led by two ELDR member parties. These parties have 6 MEPs in the Liberal ELDR group in the European Parliament.

Anneli Jaeaetteenmaeki becomes Prime Minister and her cabinet contains 8 female and 8 male ministers in the Liberal-led coalition of her own Centre Party the Swedish People's Party (also ELDR) and the Social Democrats.

The parliament has 37.5% female members and Finland becomes the only country in Europe to have women as both prime minister and president since Finns elected their first female president Tarja Halonen in February 2000.

Said Sarah:

Human rights experts condemn terrorist profiling

An EU network of experts in fundamental rights has put into serious question the development by EU governments of "terrorist profiles" with its first annual report.

The network of independent human rights academics set up at the behest of the European Parliament said that profiling by police or immigration authorities of potential terrorists on the basis of characteristics such as 'psycho-sociological features' nationality or birthplace "presents a major risk of discrimination".

EU fights race-hate crimes

The European Parliament voted today to have Europe-wide tough new laws to outlaw crimes of racial hatred. This would mean some toughening of UK law but also means that British citizens travelling abroad would be protected against expressions of racism.

London's Liberal Democrat Euro-MP Baroness Sarah Ludford said:

"I welcome this decision as it is high-time that Europe showed we will not tolerate race-hate crimes. We are determined to make Europe a place where people of all ethnic identity race and religion can feel safe and go about their daily lives without fear of attacks this is especially important at a time where incidents of race-related attacks are rising not least against Muslims."

We need to address extremist challenge

Baroness Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat MEP for London has called for an open and frank debate about how to address the sense of alienation felt by so many voters as witnessed by the one-in-five support for fascist and racist candidates in France such as Jean-Marie Le Pen.

"We have to address the quality of our democracy and the factors of sleaze dishonesty and the lack of balanced representation which leads many to be disaffected from mainstream politics. We also need to counter the anti-immigrant sentiments and racism that are attracting too high a proportion of voters throughout Europe."

Anti-terrorism: no pretext for prejudice

"We must all be vigilant that racist or xenophobic prejudice or religious intolerance find no pretext or solace under cover of the fight against terrorism.

That's the message Baroness Sarah Ludford will take on International Day against Racism [Thursday 21st March] to the Liberal International Congress in Budapest.

Sarah who is the European Liberal Democrat spokeswomen on Citizens' Rights and Freedoms Justice and Home Affairs and Euro-MP for London was lead member for anti-racism in the European Parliament in 1999-2000 and is vice-chair of its anti-racism intergroup.

Equal opportunities measures blocked by Conservatives

Baroness Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat MEP for London has criticised Tory MEPs - including the four from London - for blocking measures intended to guarantee working parents do not suffer discrimination and to ensure gender equality is written into all government policies.

Sarah Ludford said: "I thought 'IDS' was supposed to be modernising the thinking of the Tory party on social issues. All I can say is that this modernising wave has not yet hit his band at Strasbourg."

MEP challenges Mayor's race advisor on extreme declaration

Baroness Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat MEP for London is challenging Lee Jasper Ken Livingstone's adviser on race relations to dissociate himself from the NGO declaration to the UN World Conference against Racism (WCAR) which brands Israel "a racist apartheid state" guilty of "genocide and ethnic cleansing".

The MEP said:

"Even if Lee Jasper is technically here in an unofficial capacity as an NGO representative he is known to be the Mayor's race adviser. It is totally unacceptable for anyone who has an official role to promote respect and tolerance among Londoners who include many Jews to allow any hint of association with such inflammatory language. At a UN conference on combating racism including anti-Semitism use of such language is obscene."

MEP calls for UN World Conference to address discrimination against Sikhs

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP London's Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament attending the UN World Conference against Racism in South Africa has called on the European Union to support in the conference conclusions a specific reference to the need of the Sikhs for protection from discrimination.

The MEP said:

"I want the EU led by the UK to press for wording in the final declaration which urges states to recognise and eradicate the race discrimination which the Sikh community faces due to its distinct identity which is based on the complex interplay of racial ethnic religious and cultural factors."

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