Interview given by Justice Minister Oleg Efrim
Presently, the government prepares to submit a draft anti-discrimination law to the parliament again; the draft was withdrawn one year ago. Some components of the Church, as well as political forces severely criticized the draft.
Certain political forces that declare themselves opponents of this draft law have managed to distort the message. The goal of this law resides in the prevention and combating of discrimination according to the criteria of race, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, colour, sex, age, health condition, disability, sexual orientation, political opinion, social status, affiliation to a category of less well-off people, as well as in conformity of any other criterion. Also, the objective of the present draft law is to define some notions, such as harassment, inciting to discrimination, victimization, and not to promote the homosexuality, as the opponents of this law say.
The principle of non-discrimination represents an important pillar of the EU social policy, and equality of opportunities is the needed framework to implement the social policy at the state and European levels. The existence of the norms that impose efficient guarantees against discrimination and discriminatory practices are absolutely necessary in a democratic society, and combating of discrimination is indispensable for the process of promoting absolute equality for all the people.
Unfortunately, the opponents of this law turned a draft, meant to create a viable mechanism of ensuring equality of rights of the Moldovan citizens, into a subject of dispute in the society. Moldova's Constitution proclaims the principle of the citizens' equality before the law. This principle of equality is, in fact, the aspect of non-discrimination.
This is applied to the religion too: we are all equal before God. The fact that a certain part of the society opposes is because some people deliberately mislead the citizens, as they are guided by hidden interests.
Some European officials said that Moldova will not be able to get the visa free regime, if this law is not adopted.
There is a temptation on behalf of the opponents of this law to say that the European Union demands that we pass such a law. This law is part of the commitments which Moldova has taken before the EU, and is part of the set of laws for the visa regime's liberalization. The European Union wants to make sure that we share the same values, and will prove the same respect for the human rights as in the member countries.
The passage of this law is called to represent a benefit for our citizens. There are different situations in which this law may be enforced. For instance, in the field of selection of labour force. Some employers say they employ only people up to the age of 45. This is a discriminatory criterion. We know cases of discrimination according to the principle of gender, ethnic origin. Similar examples may be given from all the life aspects.
When Moldova became a Council of Europe member country, the Criminal Code was amended, and the punishments for homosexuality acts were excluded. Why the Church said nothing at that time, and now brings such severe criticism against a law that promotes the principle of equality?
Unfortunately, not only political forces, but also representatives of the Church use this message, that turned into a message with a strong political colour and is aimed against the present ruling alliance. The message is distorted in the political struggle. We admit that, initially, we did not communicate enough to explain to the citizens the goal of this law, and namely on this ground, this draft law was withdrawn in 2010, in order to be improved.
What is the difference between the old draft and the one that will be soon proposed in the parliament?
For instance, there were certain fears that this law gives grounds for marriages between homosexuals and for the adoption of children by the latter. The Constitutions clearly stipulates that the family is an alliance between a man and a woman. A constitutional norm already clearly establishes the prohibition of marriages and adoptions between and by homosexuals. We specified this fact in the present draft law. We established that this law is not applied in the process of church education. We made the needed explanations following discussions, including with representatives of the Church.
Oleg Efrim said the draft anti-discrimination law will be considered in the parliament by late April, and contains an expertise of the OSCE and the European Commission.