Carnival and the limits of freedom of expression
The carnival parades and popular festivities are usually rife with stereotypes (often) of minorities. The aim of this analysis is to approach the subject objectively, detached from the often highly inflamed emotions and intractable differences of opinion.
In Belgium, there is a deeply rooted tradition of carnival parades and other popular festivities. They are often characterised by their caustic mockery and ruthless satire. Carnival is equivalent to anarchy: all inhibitions appear to have been lifted and for several days, in a given location, anyone and anything can be the object of mockery.
Each year, Unia receives reports related to the carnival parades and other popular festivities.
- On one hand, citizens are offended by the stereotypical, disrespectful depictions (often) of minorities and what they consider to be unacceptable behaviour.
- On the other hand, citizens do not understand why local traditions, with a long-standing history, are suddenly being questioned by “others” and have all at once become such a touchy subject for certain minorities.
As the same questions and concerns recur in reports made to Unia, Unia felt it would be useful to work out a text in which both the sociological-historical context of carnival and the legal (limits) of freedom of expression in Belgium could be elaborated.
Evaluation of federal anti-discrimination legislation (2017)
Article 52 of the Anti-Discrimination Law states that the application and effectiveness of the anti-discrimination laws must be assessed by the Legislative Chambers. Unia has prepared an assessment report on the Anti-Discrimination Law and the Anti-Racism Law based on its own practical experience, national jurisprudence and its general expertise in the fight against discrimination.
Parallel CESCR Report (2020)
Unia and Myria present their parallel report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Parallel CCPR Report (2019)
Unia, Myria and the Combat Poverty Service present their parallel report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Unia’s work expressed in figures for 2016
Unia received no fewer than 5,619 reports of discrimination in 2016. These led to 1,907 case files being opened concerning possible discrimination, hate speech or hate crimes. This represents an increase of 20 percent from 2015.