First Romanian discrimination case on the grounds of sexual orientation analyzed by the European Court of Justice
ACCEPT Association, the first human rights organization in Romania to plead before the European Court of Justice based in Luxemburg (ECJ), has been invited on Wednesday, January 23rd, to state its case for the clarification of the Romanian anti-discrimination law, taking into account the Council Directive 2000/78/EC of November 27, 2000 regarding equal treatment in employment and occupation.
This clarification is necessary, considering the allegations made by George Becali in 2010, when he stated that “Not even if I had to close down the Steaua Club would I accept a homosexual on the team”. At that time, the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD), notified by ACCEPT, interpreted the discrimination implied in this statement as harassment and violation of the right to dignity, sanctioning Mr. Becali with a warning. At the same time, though, CNCD considered that this was not a situation involving Steaua Club as a potential employer or one to have any impact on employment. CNCD did not identify the connexion between Mr. Becali and the Steaua Club, in spite of Mr. Becali’s notoriety as head of Steaua Club and the fact that the Club has never dissociated itself from the public statements of its owner. The CNCD decision has been an alarming one, especially that the studies made by the Council itself prove that homosexuals are the vulnerable group which is the most exposed to discrimination in Romania.
ACCEPT, considering that the discrimination facts of this complaint were employment related and that the warning penalty was not an adequate one, has contested the CNCD decision. During the proceedings, ACCEPT asked the Bucharest Court of Appeal to request further clarifications from the European Court of Justice regarding the way in which the EU standards on discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment should be interpreted.
Lawyer Iustina Ionescu will represent ACCEPT at ECJ:
“This is the first case of sexual orientation discrimination in employment analyzed by the ECJ and from that point of view it is an important case at European level.
In our case, we turned to the Luxemburg Court because in Romania, in the last 3 years, out of 18 complaints regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation, only one has been sanctioned with a fine and two of them with a warning, which does not constitute an efficient and proportional remedy, taking into account the gravity of the denounced facts.”
According to Irina Nita, executive director of ACCEPT Association: “Sports are directly associated with the idea of fair play. To bring sexual orientation into discussion, as a criterion, when evaluating the performance of an athlete, is ridiculous and unfair towards athletes in general, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”
Public statements regarding employment exclusion based on sexual orientation have a negative impact on society and are sanctioned by both European and Romanian law in combating discrimination. The gravity of such statements is now waiting to be analyzed by the Luxemburg Court.
A decision of the European Court Of Justice is expected in the following months.
For more information: Irina Nita, Executive Director, ACCEPT Association, +40723 253 441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.