Moldova adopted a new equality law today but it has left lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens still at the bottom of the pecking order.
Although the law is a positive step forward towards equality, international LGBT rights group, ILGA-Europe, is highly concerned sexual orientation is not explicitly mentioned in the list of grounds of discrimination covered by the law, apart from in relation to discrimination in the workplace.
This lack of clarity leaves members of Moldova’s LGBT community at risk of discrimination in other arenas.
The section of the new act which lists which groups are protected from discrimination, doesn’t include a specific reference to ‘sexual orientation’ – although that might fall under the wording of ‘any other similar grounds’.
Sexual orientation is only specifically mentioned as a prohibited ground of discrimination in workplace rights.
The move comes in the same week that the European Parliament slammed some countries in Europe for keeping homophobic laws and failing to tackle discimination.
Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe’s executive director, said: ‘We regret that, by treating grounds of discrimination differently, the Moldovan law in effect institutes a hierarchy of rights.
‘At a time when city councils [in Moldova] are adopting proclamations to prohibit so called propaganda of “non-traditional sexual orientations”, we worry that this lack of legal clarity around the ground of sexual orientation will continue to leave the LGBT community in a vulnerable position and considerably limit their legal protection.’
Moldova, followed closely by Russia, had the worst ranking of all 49 European countries as one of the worst violators of LGBT human rights, according to ILGA-Europe’s recent study.
Paradis now wants judges and others to make sure the new law is applied so it benefits gay and trans people, despite the fuzzy wording.
She added: ‘We call on the Moldovan judiciary system and policy-makers to ensure that, despite explicit reference, discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered under “any other similar grounds” in the application of the law.
‘We also urge European institutions to effectively monitor implementation of this legislation and to support Moldovan authorities is applying an extensive interpretation of the law.’