In its 2019 activity report (published 28 April), the “Centre pour l’égalité de traitement” (centre for equal treatment, CET) recorded 138 new cases of discrimination in Luxembourg with disability discrimination accounting for 25% of the cases (37). It was followed by discrimination based on ethnic origin or race (31 cases), sex (18), religion (9) and age (8). In 18 cases, the discrimination fell under more than one category.
Discrimination against differently abled people has been the most common report received by the CET for several years, according to past activity reports.
Among the examples cited in the 2019 report, the CET recorded that certain insurance products from a large insurer offer conditions which exclude differently abled people, for instance blind and deaf policy holders. After its intervention, the company reformulated its general conditions.
A blind person notified the CET that the online sale of rail tickets abroad excluded people purchasing tickets for someone accompanying a differently abled passenger. The ticket had to be collected from the central train station. They reached an agreement with rail operator CFL to make such tickets free.
The CET also concluded that the justice ministry had not properly grasped the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and calls for its complete adoption in Luxembourg laws and for measures to help raise awareness so that both legislative and practical changes can be made.
Among other things, the report highlighted a worrying lack of recourse when it comes to seeking justice for online discrimination. Under law, a person can take a defamation claim to the prosecutor directly or via police. Victims however often retract their claims “either because they don’t have the courage or the strength to defend themselves, either because they hope to do it with the help of a lawyer and are not ready to spend the money to do so. The prosecutor can equally decide to not follow up a complaint.”
As a result, many cases of online discrimination go unpunished. To counter this growing phenomenon, the CET proposed that the prosecutor benefit from an automatic filing of charges. It also calls for providing the means for the prosecutor to increase staff so it can better investigate discriminatory acts.
Furthermore, the CET wants harsher punishment to be introduced against people who attempt to commit discriminatory acts, in the same way people are punished for other attempted torts.