Discrimination in access to services – what to do?

The experience of foreign students at a nightclub in Riga

A group of foreign students from India and Sri Lanka went to a nightclub in the Old Town of Riga. The security at the entrance of the club asked the young people to show IDs or passports to check if the young people are aged 18+. The young people showed their Latvian residence permits and passports. Everyone was 18+. The security declined the entrance for the group, explaining that until 23.00 only girls are allowed to enter. Although the young people saw there were many men inside the club, as well as queening at the entrance they noticed several groups of men being allowed to enter. The security angrily and quite loudly requested the group of young students to leave the queue, so other people can be let in.

The young people left, but returned after an hour and saw that the security had changed and decided to try again. At this time, the young people had also received messages from other friends – German foreign students (males), that they have entered and are expecting them inside.

The young people once again stood in line, but the other security refused to let them in, saying that the club was full and they needed to wait. The young people asked, how long would they need to wait and the security replied – he did not know and requested the young people to leave.

What to do in a similar situation?

Practical advice: in such a situation, it is useful to take photo, video or audio recording of the conversation with the nightclub guards, what other people are or are not allowed to enter, as well as write down the contacts of possible witnesses who could confirm the facts of the possible violation.

If a person suspects that she/he is denied a public service because of skin colour, ethnic or national origin, as well as gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc., then the person has a right to complain to the Ombudsman’s office or the court. The ombudsman can initiate an inspection case and, upon finding a violation of the prohibition of discrimination, the Ombudsman can recommend to prevent and end the discriminatory practice. On the other hand, if a person submits a case to the court, upon receiving a recognition of a violation of the prohibition on discrimination, the court can order to receive compensation for non-material  (non-pecuniary) harm.

If you ever suspect a discrimination when receiving or being denied to receive a publicly availale service, you can always consult at the Latvian Centre for Human Rights or the Ombudsman’s Office.

Why is it important to report discrimination?

Unjustifiably different treatment of persons on grounds such as skin colour, national or ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc. is prohibited.

It is important to report cases of discrimination in order to defend your rights, to receive a compensation for the damage caused, as well as, to prevent discrimination from happening.

Useful contacts:

Report to:

The Ombudsman’s Office 

(Tiesībsarga birojs)

Baznīcas ielā 25, Rīgā, LV-1010

Tālr.:(+371) 67686768,

E-pasts: tiesibsargs@tiesibsargs.lv

Free of charge consultation:

The Latvian Centre for Human Rights

(Latvijas Cilvēktiesību centrs)

Skolas ielā 21, 609C, Rīgā, LV-1010

Tālr.: (+371) 67039290

E-pasts: office@humanrights.org.lv

This informative material is created as part of the project “Towards a more tolerant society: information, education, support and cooperation.” The project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and the Norwegian grant programme “Active Citizens Fund”. Make Room Europe and the Latvian Centre for Human Rights are fully responsible for the content of this material.

Publicēts: 2022-12-19