Equality for all

A new equal rights bill tabled in Parliament recently grants equality to women, the disabled and foreigners with respect to the state, employers and their fellow workers. This is the first time that a comprehensive system providing for the lawful protection of the «other» has been established: a system that stipulates financial penalties and jail sentences for all types of discrimination, and also for all forms of harassment that may offend individual dignity or create a hostile or intimidating climate. This particular draft bill is not of the kind tabled by ministers wanting to demonstrate their decisiveness in solving a much-debated dilemma. Discrimination, despite being an acute problem, does not generally generate front-page news. This bill amounts to the compulsory incorporation of European directives into Greek legislation. The tormenting question is whether it is will find itself on the same dusty shelf that many previous such bills ended up on. There are no economic concerns at stake here, nor has the bill been formulated in such a way that its implementation would be difficult. What it does do is challenge firmly established xenophobic and discriminatory behavior… Enforcement of the law is a matter for the state. It is the state’s obligation to ensure that equal rights are protected in the areas of employment, insurance and education, at the very least. The question is to what extent is it able to do so.