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Respecting diversity - EU campaign truck hits road for 10-country tour - 22/07/2008

The EU has some of the widest-ranging anti-discrimination legislation in the world. But sometimes it takes more than laws to drive the message home.

Every summer for the last five years, the EU has organised a promotional truck tour to raise awareness of equal rights and combat stereotypes. The huge yellow truck, plastered with the message "respect", is hard to miss - but, with its 1.4m wheelchair lift, easy to access.

This year, it started its tour in the Czech Republic, with a visit to Prague's music festival in June. Nine other countries are on the truck's tour route: Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The tour will come to an end in October.

Stopping in two cities per country, the truck will visit music, youth and film festivals, sporting events, universities and job fairs. The tour spreads the campaign's message through interactive events -a song contest, a game show on diversity and a wheelchair obstacle course.

The programme varies from country to country, with special events like round-table discussions, concerts and dance performances.

A recent EU survey on discrimination reckons that roughly one in seven Europeans have suffered prejudice in the past year - on grounds of race, ethnic origin, age, disability, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Most Europeans see discrimination as a widespread problem, influencing housing, healthcare, education and insurance, for instance.

"Too many people in Europe are still unaware of their rights to a life free of discrimination," said social affairs commissioner Vladimir Špidla, “This campaign takes the message direct to citizens and will help to make the right to equal treatment a reality in everyday life.”

For Diversity. Against Discrimination - website on current anti-discrimination issues and activities in the EU.

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