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European Parliament backs EU wide comprehensive anti-discrimination laws

April 2, 2009 12:00 AM

A majority of the European Parliament has today backed a key report reviewing proposed laws that will see discrimination banned across the European Union on the grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief in access to goods, facilities and services. British Conservative MEPs refused to back the report. Race and gender are already covered by existing legislation.

Liz Lynne, who is Vice- President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, commented after the vote:

"Why should someone who uses a wheelchair or is a guide dog user be denied access to a shop? Why should someone of a certain age be denied health treatment purely on the grounds of age? Why should someone of a different sexual orientation not be able to go on holiday with their partner and why should anyone be discriminated against because of their religion or belief?

"Unfortunately this is a reality for a lot of people in many European Countries. The European Union was founded on human rights and antidiscrimination but still many of those rights have not been achieved.

"Passing this report today means we are one step closer to making sure that everyone regardless of their disability, age, religion or sexual orientation are not treated as second class citizens. Race and Gender are already covered by existing legislation."

Commenting on the vote by many of the EPP Group, including Conservative MEPs, to reject the proposals or abstain, Liz said:

"The position taken by many of David Cameron's MEPs shows his attempts to bury the Conservatives' 'nasty party' image has failed utterly.

"The Conservatives refused to vote for the report and therefore attempted to deny millions of EU citizens their fundamental right to be free from discrimination."