Discrimination remains a daily reality for many people in the EU despite 20 years of EU equality legislation.
Many also experience hate-motivated violence and harassment due to their ethnic or immigration background, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
At the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 in October, leading human rights experts will share their views and discuss what is needed to tackle these issues head-on.
One of the experts, a Roma activist Jelena Jovanovic, experienced prejudice and racism first-hand. She says: “There is a lot of institutional racism. And there is still denial of racism in Europe.”
Jelena works with ARDI – the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup in the European Parliament. It is a cross-party union of around 100 Members of the European Parliament committed to fighting racism.
ARDI will host a session at the Forum where members of minority groups are encouraged to put EU policymakers on the spot.
“It’s exactly one year since the European Commission adopted the first ever EU Anti-racism action plan. This was a very important step, but the question remains: does this help the people?
“We want to create a space for minority groups to define the agenda. To hear from them. To hear what’s important for them. And to have concrete outcomes,” says Jelena.
ARDI’s session promises to consider the impact of racism against all minorities in Europe, with input from Black, Asian, Roma and Muslim communities, among others.
At the end of the session, there will be a concrete list of recommendations and agreements to be put in practice.
Other Forum sessions will look into tackling hate and discrimination online.
Dr Selma Dizdarevič – a lecturer in sociology at Prague’s Charles University – works on the front-line confronting prejudice against Roma and Jewish people. She sees echoes of the rise of fascism in toxic online conversations today.
At the Forum, she will present findings from the Re-ACT project. It explores data around digital hate campaigns. And offers new solutions to age-old problems.
“People need to understand that although something online is not tangible, it can still provoke violence. These things are connected,” she says.
“We don’t want to limit freedom of speech. We’re for freedom of speech. But if it leads to violence, exclusion and humiliation of others, it’s dangerous. It should be penalised.”
Re-ACT found that the majority of human rights defenders lack knowledge of best practices for confronting hate speech online.
Therefore, the team behind the project develops and shares educational materials and tools to help fight racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance.
Dr Dizdarevič is clear that we must tackle these issues head-on, in a positive way. “What is important is presenting the situation the way it is,” she says.
“If those against us use fake information and lies in hateful propaganda, we have to be honest with the facts in response.”
And there will be much more at the Fundamental Rights Forum on 11-12 October!
With over 30 sessions dedicated to the theme ‘Fighting hate and discrimination’, the Forum will cover topics ranging from Islamophobia in education and LGBTI discrimination to dealing with racism and ageism.
To follow these sessions and dozens of others on the most pressing issues facing human rights, sign up to take part in this year’s Forum.
To follow these sessions and dozens of others
on the most pressing issues facing human rights,
sign up to take part in this year’s Forum.