On 28 of November at an event held alongside the European Union Eastern Partnership Summit taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania, The Equal Rights Trust (ERT), in partnership with the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC), launched Half an Hour to Spring: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Belarus. This addition to the ERT Country Report Series is the first ever comprehensive account of discrimination and inequalities on all grounds and in all areas of life in Belarus. It is based on extensive field research and rigorous analysis of legislation and policies, and makes a set of recommendations to the Belarusian authorities on the necessary reforms to law, policy and practice on equality and non-discrimination.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Vilnius, ERT Executive Director Dimitrina Petrova said:
"This report reveals a complex picture: considered by many to be Europe’s last dictatorship, Belarus carries forward from its Soviet past a claim to be a state for the people and a model of tolerance. The report concludes that the hybrid between a social state and an authoritarian polity is ultimately hostile to the realisation of equality as a human right."
The report finds significant evidence of discrimination on grounds of religion, ethnicity, language and political opinion, against those associated with heterodox views of the country's future. Yet it also finds evidence of a range of policies aimed at accelerating progress towards equality for women, persons with disabilities, and other groups traditionally exposed to discrimination.
Half an Hour to Spring is launched as Belarus participates in the European Union Eastern Partnership Summit. The EU has long been a key driving force for improvements in equality legislation, both in its 28 member states and in neighbouring states. In recent years, the EU has encouraged the development of equality legislation in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine. The rapid pace of progress in other European countries has left Belarus behind, such that – despite its range of progressive social programmes for groups exposed to discrimination – the country has some of the weakest protections from discrimination in Europe. As the EU and Belarus meet at this summit, ERT and BHC call on both parties to cooperate in the development of comprehensive equality legislation which will enable Belarus to both meet its international legal obligations and achieve its own stated aims.
The report is published in Russian. An Executive Summary in English is also available and full English language version will be available soon. The report is available in print as well as online.
To read Half an Hour to Spring in Russian, please click here.
To read the Executive Summary of the report in English, please click here.
To read separate parts of the report in Russian, click on the part titles below:
1.1 Purpose and Structure of This Report
1.2 Conceptual Framework and Research Methodology
1.3 Country Context
1.4 Government and Politics
2. PATTERNS OF INEQUALITY
2.1 Inequality on the Grounds of Religion, Ethnicity and Language
2.1.1 Religion or Belief
2.1.2 National (Ethnic) Minorities
2.1.3 Manifestations of Inequality Based on Use of the Belarusian Language
2.2 Inequality on the Grounds of Gender, Disability and Sexual Orientation
2.2.1 The Problem of Gender Inequality (Women)
2.2.2 Persons with Disabilities and People living with HIV
2.2.3 The LGBT Community
2.3 Inequality on the Basis of Political Opinion
2.4 The Role of Poverty and Citizenship
3. LEGISLATION, STATE POLICIES AND JUDICIAL PRACTICE RELATED TO EQUALITY AND NON-DISCRIMINATION
3.1 International Legal Obligations
3.2 National Law
3.2.1 The Constitution
3.2.2 Equality and Non-discrimination Provisions in National Legislation
3.3 State Policies
3.4 Judicial Practice
4. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS