Discrimination victims too fearful to complain, study shows
People experiencing discrimination in Luxembourg are too scared to file a complaint, a study published on Wednesday said, as the country plans to push for tougher punishment for race crimes.
The country’s authorities rarely implement legal action against racism, the study carried out by the Center for intercultural, social studies and training (CEFIS) and Luxembourg’s institute of socioeconomic research (LISER) said.
The report points to racism, discrimination towards people wearing religious clothing such as a hijab, and bias towards those who do not speak any of the country’s official languages as examples of discrimination in the country.
Foreigners make up around half of the Grand Duchy’s population and nearly half of non-white adults has experienced racism, government numbers show.
Two-thirds of the survey respondents who claimed to have been victims of discrimination did not file a complaint, mainly due to lack of proof and fear of repercussions, in particular losing their jobs if the discrimination happened at work, Wednesday’s report showed.
Luxembourg is planning to mete out tougher punishments for crimes in which race, religion or sexual orientation played a role, Justice Minister Sam Tanson said in June, after the EU threatened legal action and the UN criticised the Grand Duchy for its current practices.
The bill that was put forward addressed issues raised by the European Commission, which last year launched infringement proceedings against Luxembourg for failing “to take the necessary measures to ensure racist and xenophobic hate crimes are effectively criminalised”.
“The Luxembourgish legal framework has not established any legal provision ensuring that a racist and xenophobic motivation can be taken into account by the courts when deciding on the penalties,” the EU said in December.
Almost half of Luxembourg’s residents aged 18 and over say that discrimination based on skin colour (48.3%), lack of knowledge of the official languages (48.8%), origins (40.4 %), and distinctive cultural signs (47.6%) are “fairly or very widespread”, the study revealed.
Just under 40% of residents – and 44% of Luxembourgers – find that racism has increased in recent years, the report stated.
More than half of residents believe the punishment for discrimination is insufficient, it said. This feeling is significantly higher among black people, with 66% saying it is not enough.
Racism was the main factor in the majority of cases lodged with Luxembourg's anti-discrimination body last year, surpassing complaints about prejudice based on disability for the first time, the agency said in its annual report in May.