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NHRCK Chairperson’s Statement on
Prompt Legislation of the ‘Equality Act’(Nov 10)
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea(Chairperson Doohwan Song) presented an opinion to the 21st National Assembly on the necessity of legislating the ‘Equality Act’ on June 30, 2020, after 14 years since the Commission provided the recommendation to the National Assembly on enacting the ‘Non-discrimination Act’. On June 21, 2021, the Commission released a statement to call for prompt legislation of the ‘Equality Act’.
After the ‘bill on non-discrimination’ was proposed by an assembly member Hyeyoung Jang from the Justice Party (20 Jun 2020), the Democratic Party assembly member Sangmin Lee proposed the ‘bill on equality’, based on the draft proposal prepared by the Commission. Joomin Park and Insook Kwon from the Democratic Party have also proposed the ‘bill on equality’ and the ‘bill on equality and non-discrimination’, respectively. It is quite encouraging to see 4 bills being proposed to the 21st National Assembly to further expedite the process of legalizing the laws to promote non-discrimination and equality in Korea.
However, full-on discussions to push forward with the ‘Equality Act’ legislation have stalled at the National Assembly, even on the due date to submit the review on ‘the national approval on the Equality Act legislation’, which was November 10.
Since the National Human Rights Commission of Korea recommended the government to legislate the ‘Non-discrimination Act’ in 2006, 7 bills relevant to the ‘Equality Act’ were proposed up until the year 2013. These bills, however, have all been automatically repealed, as the National Assembly failed to conduct review on the proposed bills. In this context, the Commission express its deepest regret to the stagnation of discussions at the 21st National Assembly to legislate ‘Equality Act’.
November 25 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Various human rights agenda were publicized and legislated to be incorporated into government policies since the establishment of the Commission. The ‘Equality Act(Non-discrimination Act)’, however, still remains at the National Assembly.
According to the 'survey on the public awareness on discrimination', 9 out of 10 people are in favor of enacting laws ensuring equality rights and the ‘petition on the Non-discrimination Act legislation’ was submitted to support the legislation. The result of the survey and the submitted petition prove the ‘Equality Act(Non-discrimination Act)’ legislation is a pending issue which cannot be ignored. With the public understanding and the consensus on the enactment, the National Assembly no longer has the reason to remain silent on the matter.
The member states of the United Nations have pledged to ensure the state where “no one will be left behind” when adopting the Sustainable Development Goals 2030(SDG). The ‘Equality Act(Non-discrimination Act)’, the law which will contribute to achieving SDG2030 goals, will act as a safety net in societies where unfair discrimination is very much a reality for many.
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea once again calls on the National Assembly to answer to the public’s request to promptly legislate the ‘Equality Act(Non-discrimination Act)’, and the Commission will do its utmost to enact the ‘Equality Act(Non-discrimination Act)’ to make societies where everyone can enjoy the right to be equal.