On Tuesday the Catalan government once again approved a draft law on equal treatment and non-discrimination. The text was in process in Parliament, but it was put on hold when article 155 [direct rule] was applied [last year]. Catalonia’s Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Families, Chakir El Homrani, pointed out that they are aware that there are already specific regulations that protect the LGBTI community and women, but stressed the importance of having an "umbrella law" that addresses "any type of discrimination and whose guiding principle is a defense of the equality and dignity of all people." It will have a sanctioning power that the Minister has not yet determined, as he is waiting for Parliament to discuss it. It will have to be developed by means of a specific regulation.
The law is aimed at all public institutions and natural or legal persons of a private nature. It provides for protective measures, with the obligation to apply methods and instruments to detect violations of the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination. It also states that preventative measures or ones to end discriminatory situations must be taken.
With regard to the ability to impose sanctions, the Minister said that approving this project now does not imply an end to the development of a law against homophobia, bi-phobia and trans-phobia, with their corresponding regulations.
National Plan for Equality of Treatment and Non-Discrimination
The text approved in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday provides for the promotion of a National Plan for Equality of Treatment and Non-Discrimination, a document that would determine the guiding principles, strategic lines, objectives, and the measures to prevent, eliminate, and correct any form of discrimination due to the causes established by this law.
Before being approved, the project underwent a participatory process involving the councils attached to the Generalitat, such as the Citizenship and Immigration Board, the Council for the Elderly of Catalonia, the LGBTI National Council, the National Women's Council, and the National Youth Council, as well as other Catalan groups and associations.
A few hours before the law was passed, in fact, the Homophobia Watchdog Organization (OCH) of Catalonia and the Catalan delegation of the Spanish LGBT Federation (FELGBT) had called for the Spanish law of LGBTI equality to be enforced, alleging that "it [the Catalan law] is currently on hold".
The Catalan LGBT law, approved in 2014, "is not being implemented in its entirety," noted Joaquim Roqueta, a spokesman for the FELGBT, while OCH President Eugeni Rodríguez cited 400 recorded incidents of homophobia but only six penalties in four years.