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NHRCK calls for introduction of equality law

Graphic: Commission Chairperson Choi Young-ae

The Commission said there was growing public consensus for the enactment of an equality law.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea has submitted an opinion calling on the National Assembly to promptly enact a law on equality and non-discrimination, based on the draft Bill submitted by the Commission.

Equality is a fundamental principle of the Constitution relating to the protection of basic rights. As a party to multiple international human rights treaties, the Republic of Korea has an obligation to promote domestic application of international human rights norms.

Equality laws have been enacted in most OCED members, except Korea and Japan. Korea, which serves as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, needs to heed the call from the international community for the adoption of an equality law.

A broad consensus has now been formed on the need to enact equality law. A survey of public attitudes towards discrimination, conducted by the Commission in April 2020, revealed that the vast majority of Korean citizens (nine out of ten) recognised the need for stronger action against discrimination.

It is also noteworthy that there has been a growing public consensus for the enactment of an equality law. In the survey, 88.5% of respondents agreed with the need to pass the equality law, about 15 per cent higher compared to the same survey conducted last year (72.9%).

Although there are separate laws to protect people against different grounds of discrimination – such as disability, gender, age and employment status – these laws have limited effectiveness in resolving various forms of discrimination.

A person's identity is formed by multiple characteristics, including gender, disability and age. Therefore, to accurately understand incidents of discrimination, we need a law that interprets discrimination from a comprehensive perspective.

A general equality law that encompasses all forms of discrimination will help ensure application of consistent and uniform standards.

The Commission calls on the National Assembly, the representative of citizens and the legislature of a State, to make an all-out effort to introduce equality law. This should be one of the key Bills to be considered by the 21st National Assembly.

The Commission has put forward a draft Bill that provides the direction and contents of the new law. We can no longer afford to delay the passage of equality law.

Date: 7 July 2020

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea

Image credits

  1. Commission Chairperson Choi Young-ae - National Human Rights Commission of Korea