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Introduction

The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Contact:
Romanita Iordache
E-mail: reiordache@gmail.com

 

Country context

The understanding of the principle of equality and non-discrimination in the Romanian society is marked by three historical periods. Firstly, the Romanian society had to come up to terms with the Communist experience, an experience defined by an imposed rhetoric of equality which was de facto contradicted by the aggressive policies targeting minorities and ‘otherness’ in general, aggressive assimilationist policies regarding national or ethnic minorities, refusal to recognize Roma as an ethnic minority and forced integration as ‘social problem,’ criminalisation of consensual homosexual activities or denial of religious freedom for minority religious groups.

Main principles and definitions

The 2000 Anti-discrimination Law introduces a broad, comprehensive definition of direct discrimination, going beyond the substance and the coverage of the Directives 43/2000/EC and 78/2000/EC.[1] Even though the list of protected grounds is very generous and includes grounds outside the five grounds mentioned by the directives, the catch-all phrase ‘any other criterion’ created the possibility for the Romanian courts or for the NCCD to apply the Law to a wide list of categories going beyond the mere experience of discrimination and turning the anti-discrimination norm in a wide equality principle - the ‘hyper-inflation’ of grounds having potentially a negative impact on the credibility and enforceability of the law.

Enforcing the law

The Anti-discrimination Law creates a dual system of remedies: the victim can choose between filing a complaint with the NCCD on the administrative track or/and lodging a civil complaint for damages with the court (stamp duties are exempted). The victim can also choose to use both venues simultaneously which is creating difficulties in practice and it is overstretching the already scarce resources of the NCCD as the institution is asked to participate in civil proceedings as expert.

Main legislation

The Romanian Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all citizens in Art.4.2 providing for citizenship without any discrimination on account of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, sex, opinion, political adherence, property or social origin, and in Art. 16 providing for the equality of all citizens before the law and public authorities, without any privilege or discrimination. Art. 30 (7) prohibits ‘any instigation …, to national, racial, class or religious hatred, any incitement to discrimination.’ Constitutional norms are not self-enforcing. The 2013 discussions for the revision of the Constitution touched upon the list of protected grounds, expanding the list to the one in Art. 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, however excluding sexual orientation which was initially included and subsequently deleted by the Commission for the Revision of the Constitution.

Material scope

The material scope of the Romanian Anti-discrimination Law encompasses the areas protected by both the Directive 43/2000/EC and the Directive 78/2000/EC. The Law goes beyond these areas and provides also for protection in relation to freedom of movement, as well as for the protection of the right to dignity. When defining discrimination, the legislator took a comprehensive approach and the principle of equality and of prohibition of discrimination applies in relation to all fundamental freedoms. Both public and private actors are under the duty to observe the framework established by the Anti-discrimination Law.

Equality bodies

The national equality body, Consiliul Naţional pentru Combaterea Discriminării [National Council on Combating Discrimination (NCCD)] was provided for in the Anti-discrimination Law of 2000 but it was effectively established in the Fall of 2002. Beginning with 2007 the NCCD started opening regional offices and it currently has two such offices. The NCCD is an autonomous public authority under the control of the Parliament, whose independence is spelled out in the Law. 

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