During the last year, the spread of COVID-19 has put all of Europe to a stress test. The measures taken by governments to tackle the crisis have had far-reaching effects on all aspects of our lives. In our common efforts to contain the spread of the virus, we have witnessed impressive examples of solidarity and social cohesion. However, on numerous occasions we have also seen that minorities and groups at risk of discrimination have been blamed unjustifiably for the outbreak of the pandemic or for any setbacks in combatting it. There are many indications that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased discrimination and social inequalities. Equinet has been closely monitoring the situation in Europe and gathering inputs from national equality bodies in the COVID-19 database since March 2020. At the beginning of 2021, members of Equinet’s Working Group on Research and Data Collection decided to analyze the data available and provide a visual explanation of the state of equality and non-discrimination in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This factsheet is the result of the analysis.
The factsheet begins by giving insight into the complaints related to COVID-19, received by national equality bodies in Europe. It outlines common forms of discrimination for different grounds and provides concrete examples of discrimination cases that equality bodies have been receiving.
However, receiving complaints is only a part of equality bodies’ daily work. A large section of this factsheet is dedicated to the other activities of equality bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Namely, it shows the different ways in which equality bodies have been involved in safeguarding the principle of non-discrimination in any governmental measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus and provides examples of good practices. By participating in legal procedures, collaborating with national and local authorities or launching awareness campaigns, equality bodies were able to highlight possible discriminatory practices or prohibit discriminatory acts from happening in the first place.
Finally, building upon Equinet’s recent perspective Equality in the time of Covid-19: learning from equality body initiatives, which identifies important challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the work of equality bodies, this factsheet provides additional insight into the practical obstacles they face in their daily work.