Bruno Kreisky Foundation

for Human Rights

NGO-Project “An Anti-Discrimination Law for Austria” (Austria)

The NGO-Project „An Anti-Discrimination Law for Austria“was worked on by a wide range of Austrian human right’s NGOs. Their plans to create an anti-discrimination law in Austria, was caused by their observation and advocacy for people of African heritage in Austria. Hannes Tretter of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights and Cornelia Kogoj accepted the award on behalf of the project. Dr. Cornelia Kogoj has been the General Secretary of the Initiative for Minorities since 1998.

In 1998, NGO members with legal backgrounds decided to use their competency with law to formulate what they felt would be appropriate legislation. The members of the NGO Project were careful to make sure that their law did not conflict with other basic laws of the state. Hannes Trettner commented that in addition to race, discrimination could be due to ethnic heritage, gender, religious affiliation, age, disabilities, and sexual orientation. They hope to achieve protection for minorities, in many different areas of public life, including the media, school systems, and places of work, so that no one is discriminated against based upon their background.

At the time of the Kreisky prize, Trettner pointed out that the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, was also missing a similar law. The document was begun in 1999 and it was approved by 2000. Recently, in the year 2010, article 14, an amendment to the charter was added, which provides for the protection of minorities’ human rights within the European Union.

1979 was when the Equal Treatment Act was created, but it wasn’t amended to comply with the European Union’s “non-discrimination guidelines” until 2004. However, in a 2008 report by the Human European Consultancy, they claim that there are no legal documents in Austrian law which provide for criminal sanctions following ‘unlawful discrimination.’ The Equal Treatment Act only calls for penal punishment, and monetary fines of approximately 360 euros, and then, only when the person involved is a second time offender.