“Race” and the Constitution: A South African perspective

For a South African constitutional lawyer, watching from afar, the current debate in Germany on the removal of the word “race” from section 3 of article 3 of the German Basic Law, is perplexing. In the South African context, a similar call would widely be viewed as a regressive step aimed at protecting white privilege and reinforcing the social and economic dominance of the white minority. The South African and German contexts and histories differ, and the word “race” might have different connotations in German than it has in English, but it may nevertheless be of interest to consider why the words “race”, “racial” and “non-racialism” are mentioned in several provisions of the South African Constitution.

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Homosexuality as a Form of Expression

Numerous courts have dealt with the question whether the sexual identity of an individual enjoys constitutional protection as freedom of expression. Recently, Singapore’s Supreme Court has rejected this understanding of the freedom of expression which highlights the different approaches of courts across countries like Singapore, India, Botswana, and Kenya.

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Fighting COVID-19 with Religious Discrimination

The Korean authorities have garnered significant praise for their effective response to COVID-19. However, the country’s experience has not been without controversy. A significant proportion of cases were publicly attributed to a controversial religious congregation, and the authorities’ dealings with its members raise questions about compliance with a number of human rights.

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It’s not about Bathroom Policies, it’s about Constitutional Principles

The United States Supreme Court is expected to soon deliver its judgment in the first transgender rights case before it. In the absence of federal laws protecting transgender persons from discrimination, the case revolves around the question whether the prohibition of discrimination ‘because of … sex’ transgender discrimination. The US Supreme Court appears to turn this into a question of political deliberation, bathroom policies and dress codes. The ECJ, on the other hand, instead of getting lost in policy discussions, has already in 1996 recognized the protection of transgender persons against discrimination based on the core constitutional principle of equality. The ECJ’s approach does in fact have a foothold under US case law and the US Supreme Court could seize the opportunity to bring transgender persons closer to enjoying the same rights as the general population.

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Hospitality Ltd

But how do jurists and legal theorists read and write Airbnb’s story? Do they narrate it as a Cinderella story, the fairy-tale rise to power and glory of three drudges? Do they recount the story of a rare and fantastic ‘unicorn’, a start-up company that reached a $1 billion valuation? Do they retell the ballad of Robin Hood, a heroic outlaw, who robbed the rich to give to the poor, a model of ingenuity, altruism, and popular justice? Do they adopt the economic rhetoric of competition, describing the relations between Airbnb and hotels, and between Airbnb and states, as David-and-Goliath battles between stodgy giants and an innovative newcomer? Do they warn Little Red Riding Hood against the Big Bad Wolf? Or do they caution the three bears about Goldilocks, the gentrifier?
To problematize the valuation of hospitality, this blogpost examines the interplay between different dispositifs that, so to speak, value ‘hospitality’ – tourism, and also migration and citizenship.

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The EU, Segregation and Rule of Law Resilience in Hungary

The legal and political consequences of the Hungarian government’s campaign against an appeal judgment which ordered the payment of compensation for school segregation can reverberate across the EU, because of the ubiquitous nature of segregation. Should the Hungarian government prevail, the case may negatively impact the integration of minorities in other Member States as well, particularly if the European Commission fails to increase its efforts to enforce the Racial Equality Directive.

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The Delhi Killings and the Making of Violence

The recent killings in Delhi, orchestrated by armed mobs with impunity and legitimized through the highest offices of government and the current ruling party, resulted in the death of almost 50 people, mostly Muslims and mostly the poor and vulnerable among them. The sheer scale, design and brutality of the undertaking revived memories of the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 1984 riots in Delhi, that exhibited a certain pattern. That of absolute unrestraint and complicity. Of the state, the executive, the police, the popular media and in many respects the courts as well, in creating and perpetuating a state of terror while fuelling discrimination and disenfranchisement against minorities, especially Muslims.

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Access to Menstrual Products is a Constitutional Right. Period.

On 7 November, the German Parliament (Bundestag) passed a legislation which will reduce the sales tax on menstrual products from 19 percent, for those classified as “luxury goods”, to 7 percent. While most international human rights instruments as well as constitutions are silent on the issue of access to menstrual products, the “tampon tax” reveals a deep gender bias in tax systems around the world. This bias is not only detrimental to the socio-economic rights of women but it is also unconstitutional as sex-based discrimination.

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Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Fails Romanian and Bulgarian Migrant Workers

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals might not be British workers, but they are nevertheless workers. And both the EU and the UK have an ethical responsibility to outline provisions so that Brexit does not further marginalize the very same group of workers who already face discrimination in the British labour market.

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