16th of November 2020
‘Tolerance is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human’. Declaration of the Principles on Tolerance.
Tolerance is a moral duty, but also a political and legal requirement for individuals, groups and States. Laws must ensure equality of treatment and opportunity for all groups and individuals in society.
Fighting intolerance requires:
- Enforcing human rights: by punishing discrimination committed by private or public individuals and ensuring access to the justice system for everyone.
- Education: intolerance is rooted in fear and ignorance of the unknown other. Getting to learn about other people and their hopes and struggles make us aware that we are all intrinsically the same, and that we all suffer biases due to the societies we grew up in.
- Access to information to the public in order to differentiate between facts and opinions as published and broadcasted by online forums and mainstream media.
- Local Solutions: we are all part of the solution. Solutions to global problems are mainly local, and even- individual.
Two points about the Maltese Situation as reported by the Fundamental Rights Agency (EU) 2020 Report:
- In September 2018, Eurobarometer released the results of a survey which demonstrated that Malta holds the highest levels of hate speech in the EU. In the context of this, it was announced in June 2019 that the Ministry for Home Affairs is in the process of establishing a specialised unit dedicated to tackling hate speech and hate crime in Malta. Following migrant protests and a showing of increased hate speech on social media, the unit was inaugurated in October 2019. More information on the Unit can be found on: https://stophate.gov.mt/en/Pages/Home.aspx
- Act III of 2019 was passed in March to update the Public Administration Act. Now everyone in the working sphere is protected from discriminatory behaviour. The Act contains a Code of Ethics for Public Employees and Board Members. Point 20 of this code covers “non-discrimination”, stating that “Public employees and board members shall ” (a) “not discriminate in any manner or on any basis including race, place of origin, nationality, skin colour, political opinions, creed, sex, sexual orientation, expression or gender identity, civil status, mental or physical well-being”;
Time for some self-reflection and awareness:
Where do our stereotypes and personal prejudices come from? How should we combat them?