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Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts Demonstration of Russian community in Chisinau. "I want to study in Russian" is written on the poster.

On July 12, 2013, a new article in the Code of Offences came into force. The article focuses on “public activities, negatively affecting minors”, prohibiting actions and/or dissemination of information aimed at “promotion of prostitution, paedophilia, pornography, or any other relationships that are not related to family and marriage in accordance with the Constitution and the Family Code”. According to the article any positive information about the LGBT community can be considered as an administrative violation.

On March 26, 2013, the National Assembly of Gagauzia adopted a package of amendments to the Law on the Executive Committee of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. According to one of the amendments, departmental heads in the executive committee can only be persons who speak the Gagauz language. Until now, such linguistic restrictions only applied to the Bashkan (Governor) and the chairman of the People's Assembly of Gagauzia. Other amendments introduced a residency requirement for local officials.

A number of normative acts were introduced in 2014 that discriminate the Russian language. On May 6, the Coordinating Council on Radio and Television issued a recommendation on the “correct use of official names of settlements in audio-visual programmes”, which prohibited using Russian form of spelling and pronunciation of Moldovan settlements.

On June 29, Moldovan government adopted a draft new Education Code, according to which the state undertakes to teach four languages – Romanian and English compulsory and another two electively. According to the bill, Russian language – native to majority of Moldovan citizens – would become an elective and would be excluded from compulsory curriculum. On July 18, Moldovan Parliament passed the corresponding bill. The bill was available on the Ministry of Education website in the state language, which prevented national minorities from accessing the proposed amendments. Furthermore, according to MP Irina Vlah, neither the Ministry of Education nor the Education Administration ATO Gagauz ERI held any consultations with Gagauzian schools regarding the proposed changes. The bill did used the term “Romanian language” instead of “Moldovan language”; it also did not mention the Russian language, even though it is recognised as the language of inter-ethnic communication.

On September 24, MPs from the ruling parties approved the bill that accused Russian TV channels of spreading propaganda of racism and separatism. Right-wing MP Valeriu Saharneanu proposed introducing additional repressive mechanisms against such broadcasters, which was also discussed at a profile parliamentary committee on media. Saharneanu’s initiative was supported by members of the ruling coalition. Television channels will be shut down as part of the struggle against propaganda of racism and chauvinism. It is noteworthy that author of the initiative admitted that these measures will not affect channels that promote Moldovan-Romanian unionism, as it is “favourable”. According to the proposed changes, “rebroadcasting of foreign television and radio channels [within the Republic of Moldova] that promote racial hatred, chauvinism, separatism, promote violation of sovereignty and independence of the states recognised by the United Nations, excessively reflect only the official point of view of its government, practicing censorship of the civil society and opposition, supporting forced occupation and annexation of foreign territories, is prohibited”.

In October 2017, the Constitutional Court of Moldova agreed with the opinion of a group of MPs on replacing the name of the state language from Moldovan to Romanian. Parliament, then controlled by the socialists, did not approve this decision. After the inauguration of the President of Moldova Maia Sandu, the name of the state language was changed on the official website of the head of state - from Moldovan to Romanian. The English and Russian versions of the site have not changed. The Moldovan and Romanian languages ​​are very close to each other, but they differ - Moldovan has experienced a significant influence of the Russian and Ukrainian languages ​​in its history. The Parliament of Moldova approved Moldovan as the state language and translated it from Cyrillic to Latin in 1989. It is this language, according to the Constitution of the country, that is the state language. Maia Sandu, in addition to Moldovan, has Romanian citizenship. She took office as President of Moldova on December 24, 2020, replacing Igor Dodon. Many saw in the change of the name of the language the desire of the ruling circles of the country to unite with Romania, against which a significant part of the left political parties and many representatives of national minorities protest.

In January 2021, the Constitutional Court of Moldova declared the Law on the Functioning of Languages ​​on the Territory of the Republic unconstitutional in terms of the privileged status of the Russian language. On December 3, 2020, the country's parliament adopted in the final reading the law on the functioning of languages ​​on the territory of the republic, in which the Russian language became the language of interethnic communication. This followed immediately a similar decree from outgoing President I. Dodon. According to the adopted law, in relations with public authorities, as well as with enterprises and organizations located on the territory of Moldova, the language of oral and written communication is the state language and / or Russian as the language of interethnic communication at the choice of a citizen. This is explained not only by the fact that a significant Russian-speaking minority lives in Moldova, but also by the fact that the vast majority of the country's citizens speak Russian.

According to the President of the Constitutional Court, Domnica Manole, Article 2 of the law on the functioning of languages ​​in Moldova, adopted by Parliament on December 16, 2020, "gives the Russian language a privileged status in relation to other languages ​​of national minorities in the Republic of Moldova", which is not provided for by the Moldovan constitution . Recognizing the new law as contrary to the constitution, the Constitutional Court agreed with the arguments of the opposition deputies, who argued that the document violates the rights of the majority of citizens and belittles the role of the state language.

In 2021, the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality clarified the concept of "discrimination". “For an attitude to be considered discriminatory, it must be based on one of the criteria that the law protects, namely: race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion or belief, gender, age, disability, opinion, political affiliation or similar criterion,” the Council said in a clarification. Meanwhile, the law does not contain a direct reference to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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