Czechs face EU sanctions over anti-discrimination directive

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The Czech Republic could face an official complaint from the European Commission and financial sanctions over its failure to introduce an EU directive on discrimination into its legislation.

The country’s Labour and Social Affairs minister, Petr Necas, speaking after a meeting of EU minister last week, said that censure could come as soon as this month.

Anti-discrimination legislation was supposed to have been passed before the country joined the EU in 2004.

EU directives are legislation that requires member states to, for example, deal with discrimination, but leaves it up to the states to decide on the best course of action to take.

All other member states have incorporated the EU anti-discrimination directive into their legislation.

It gives equal access to healthcare, social services, education and employment to people regardless of gender, religion, political views, sexual orientation or disability.

Wide-ranging legislation covering the directive is before the Czech Chamber of Deputies.It has decided to delay its vote until after elections to the Senate this month.

A previous vote in June was delayed because of fears it would not pass.

One third of the Senate is up for election.

The country faces a fine from the European Court of Justice if it fails to incorporate the EU directive.

In 2006 the Czech Republic was the first post-communist government in the EU to recognise homosexual partnerships.

Their registered partnership legislation covers inheritance, maintenance and hospital rights for same-sex partners, but not adoption.

The European Commission decided in June introduce a new directive on discrimination on the grounds of disability, age, religion and sexual orientation in the provision of goods, services and facilities.

The new directive will cover direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation.

However, member states will remain free to “maintain measures ensuring the secular nature of the state or concerning the status and activities of religious organisations.”