Civil society organisations recommend the government boost the fight against discrimination.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest – 19/02/13
Freedom of speech is one area in which Moldova improved, according to the Human Rights Information Centre. [AFP]
Moldova should step up efforts to improve its human rights record, which remains merely satisfactory despite recent government measures, civil society experts said.
Moldova's Human Rights Information Centre organised the first human rights barometer since Moldova gained independence in 1991 and released a report last month.
It warned that Moldova lags behind in observing, protecting and ensuring human rights and earned an overall score of 5.7 on a scale of 10.
The report said the most serious problem is discrimination against sexual minorities, an area that received a grade of 3.1 on the 10-point scale, as well as against ethnic minorities, which received a grade of 4.7.
The centre also pointed out welcome improvements, including concerning freedom of speech, which the report graded with 6.3, and property rights protection, also with 6.3.
"There is a very high degree of homophobia in society," Angela Frolov, advocacy programme co-ordinator at the Genderdoc-M, an organisation that advocates for gay rights, told SETimes.
"The situation is getting worse by day because the church makes hateful statements and incites discrimination against gays, but also because of political leaders who use homophobia to gain electoral capital," Frolov added.
Last May, parliament passed the first comprehensive anti-discrimination law on ensuring equality, which entered into force on January 1st. But experts said the law falls short of international standards.
"The law has never included gender identity as forbidden grounds," Heather McGill, researcher at Amnesty International, told SETimes in a statement.
The Moldovan government argued the list is open-ended because it included the phrase "other similar criteria," McGill said.
But given the prejudice directed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, sexual orientation may not be interpreted by Moldovan courts and prosecutors as similar to discrimination on other grounds like disability or belief.
Amnesty International made 12 recommendations for Moldova to meet international human rights standards.
Among them, to amend the law on ensuring equality so it includes sexual orientation, sexual identity and state of health as forbidden grounds for discrimination, recruitment of members of the Council to Ensure Equality among lawyers, but also representatives of the civil society with proven knowledge in the field and representatives of the communities most frequently discriminated against.
A national human rights forum was held in Chisinau in December.
The attendees listed priorities that include establishing a council to prevent and fight discrimination, legalise gender quotas for electoral lists and instituting penalties for not observing the quotas.
"The country’s tendency towards the European integration is the unique leverage this community can see its situation improved," Frolov said.