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New boost for the Office for Non-Discrimination

City Council. New premises are opened for the OND, the municipal service guaranteeing people’s rights and preventing discrimination in the city.

Discrimination comes in various forms. Rights violations of in the city are often based around factors such as people’s age, health, gender, sexual orientation, social condition, religion, origin or skin colour. The Office for Non-Discrimination (OND) helps and advises victims of hate or discrimination, as well as mediating and penalising hateful behaviour.

The OND works in two basic areas: guaranteeing rights and prevention, through collaboration with various bodies in the city. Guaranteeing people’s rights requires a support service in cases of discrimination, particularly relating to legal aspects, while prevention is channelled through the Human Rights Resource Centre, a new space at the OND head office providing human rights information, training and awareness for citizens and organisations.

The Office for Non-Discrimination has reopened with bigger premises at C/ Ferran 32, and includes individual support booths to guarantee privacy for people reporting cases. Labour conditions for the team have also been improved, the legal service extended and office coordination renewed.

The OND will be prioritising its work relating to the following:

  • Discriminatory speech and hate speech
  • Discriminatory exercise of right to admission
  • Right to housing
  • Discrimination in public places

A historical office

The defence of people’s rights has always been a tenet for the city. In 1992 the commissioner’s office for the defence of civil rights was set up, followed later by the councillor’s office for civil rights. It wasn’t until 1998 that the Office for Non-Discrimination (OND) appeared. This public service to handle human rights violations and fight discrimination was a pioneering model in Europe, being emulated in numerous cities in the state and the EU.

In recent years the office’s role as a leading service in the city had diminished due to budget cuts and a lack of prioritisation, but the ‘Barcelona, City of Rights’ programme, set up in 2016, included the regaining of the OND.

Figures for discrimination

In 2017 the OND opened 233 cases relating to discrimination and provided support for 160 people who requested information and advice. The figures show racism and xenophobia as the main reasons for discrimination, accounting for 39% of cases. Gender was the next cause for discrimination (12%), followed by disability (9%), LGBTIphobia (8%), aporophobia (8%) and economic situation. Other cases of discrimination were related to ideology, age, health and religion, with fewer instances reported.

In gender discrimination cases, the majority of victims were women. In terms of health discrimination, the number of people with mental disorders accounted for twice the number of complaints by people with chronic illnesses. In religious discrimination cases, Islamophobia was the main cause.

In terms of the types of rights violated, the highest number of cases corresponded to the right to moral integrity, accounting for 33% of cases, followed by the right to housing (12%), the right to information (9%), labour rights and the right to freedom and safety, both accounting for 8% of the total.

Using these data, the Office for Non-Discrimination concludes that situations of racism and xenophobia prompt the violation of the right to moral integrity, generating insults and degrading treatment based on race.

Finally, violations occurring in private entities or companies account for 37% of cases, followed by administrations (32.6%) and among individuals (24.4%). Complaints affecting municipal services run by the City Council have been handled in coordination with the Barcelona ombudswoman.

 

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