1. The IVRA has asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to make a public statement about veganism and the intention to withhold benefits from parents who do not vaccinate their children. We will publish the response as soon as we receive it from them.
2. The IVRA often receives emails from vegans that complain about airlines not making any provisions for suitable in-flight food, despite the fact that they have been given plenty of notice regarding this requirement. As most of the airlines label the in-flight food as "complimentary", meaning that it was not included in the cost of the ticket, there isn't much that can be done.
The IVRA always makes enquiries when an email like that is received, prompting the airlines to consider accommodating vegans. However, we strongly recommend that vegans travelling by plane should call the airline or the travel agent well in advance and ask for a vegan in-flight food option. More information and advice can be found here.
1.One of the largest newspapers in Sweden, published an article on the 29th of March 2015, urging the Swedish government to include veganism as a valid ethical and political belief in state regulations. You can read the article here.
2.Last October, the Equality Commission in the UK conducted a survey, regarding religion or belief in the workplace. The IVRA put a link to that survey on the website and prompted UK based vegans to participate, as it was a great chance for vegans to voice the difficulties they face at work because of their belief.
The Equality Commission recently released a report based on the findings of that survey and you can read it by clicking here.
Update on Vartic Case: In December 2013, the European Court of Human Rights has concluded that Romania violated Mr Ghennadii Vartic’s human rights (under Article 9 of the Convention) by not providing appropriate food. You can read more about this case and update by going to our cases page here.
We have received a complaint from the United States regarding American Airlines. According to the complaint, American Airlines have removed the vegan option from their in-flight menu (domestic and some international routes). The IVRA sent an email to the American Airlines asking for a confirmation and an explanation regarding the above complaint and we have received the following response from the airline:
"We understand your disappointment that we do not offer the option of ordering a special meal in the first class cabin of domestic non-transcontinental flights and in the coach cabin on all domestic flights and on flights to/from the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Central America and Canada. This change in service resulted from an exhaustive competitive analysis of this particular complimentary amenity. The cost savings identified by this reduction in service are significant for us and will help us focus on those of our products and services better valued by our customers. Special meals are still available on flights to Europe, Japan and some South American destinations..."
The IVRA is currently investigating this issue further.
Maria Alekhina, the vegan member of the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot, was released from prison on the 23rd of December 2013
1.In August 2012 the IVRA gave its full support to Russian vegan Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina (https://www.facebook.com/veganMariaAlekhina) when it was reported that she was being denied appropriate food. This year, the Russian authorities are again accused of withholding appropriate food for yet another vegan prisoner, Sini Saarela (http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131021/184274723/Starving-Vegan-2-More-Greenpeace-Activists-Denied-Bail-in-Russia.html)
The IVRA’s position on this issue is that all vegan prisoners have the right to culturally acceptable food. This right is contained in the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and in International law under the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights and promoted by the UN Special Rapporteur for the right to food. Further, all states must respect qualifying beliefs in law and allow citizens to manifest their beliefs in daily practice. A variety of internationally respected laws outlaw the actions of the Russian authorities and as such we urge them to review their practices and comply with their international obligations. The UN Committee on Social and Economic Rights has already urged the Russian Government to review its laws relating to Articles of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. The IVRA insists that vegan prisoners are fed appropriate food as it is their right in law.
Are you a Russian citizen? We can support you if you want to raise attention to this issue in your country. Please contact us.
2.This month, French parents of Joachim, who was being raised vegan, will have their case heard in court. Joachim was taken into care by the French authorities who feared for the health of the child. The IVRA has provided a supportive document for the parents to use in court. You can read more about this case and support the family here:
Update on the US Chenzira case: This case has now been settled out of court but no settlement information is available. This means that the case will not now be heard by the court and no court decision about veganism in law will be forthcoming. Initially the case progressed because U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel did not agree with the hospital's claim that veganism is merely a social philosophy or dietary preference. It was decided that veganism may be protected as a religion under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations. These rules define religious practices but include sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong. We do not know whether or not the hospital in question changed their mind about their argument that veganism is not protected under the employment provisions.
1.The IVRA attended the Veggie Pride in Geneva between the 16th and 20th of May. Visit our "Gallery" page for photographs.
2.The IVRA will attend the International Animal Rights Gathering in Belgium in August this year. For more information about the event, please visit http://www.argathering.net or click on the banner in our home page.
1.The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission provide the first part of their response under Freedom of Information rules. What has been provided so far is insufficient to understand why the vegan examples were removed. They speak of using a “clearer precedent” such as humanism and the need to go through the Draft Code of Practice and “get rid of vegan examples” used to explain and describe how to provide for someone’s “belief” under the terms of the Equality Law. More information will be provided as it comes in.
2.The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recently published Resolution 1928 (April 2013) which comes just after the ruling in Eweida (the BA employee who was not allowed to wear a visible crucifix at work but won her case in January 2013 at the European Court of Human Rights). This resolution urges states to pay particular attention to the needs of a diverse society and comply with their obligations under international law. States are urged to guarantee freedom of thought in relation to health care and education for example, and respect the rights of parents to ensure their children are taught according to their philosophical convictions. Section 11.3 urges states to promote correct and objective education about non-religious beliefs including those of minorities. Section 9.4. calls on states to reaffirm that freedom of conscience and belief is an essential part of the European human rights system GUARANTEED by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The IVRA sponsors the Northern Vegan Festival, which takes place in Manchester on the 13th of April. Please come and visit us there on the day. For more information, visit: http://www.northernveganfestival.com
Under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, a request has been submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for more details concerning the discussions that led to the removal of the vegan examples in the Equality Act Code of Practice.
Outcome of IVRA enquiries:
Enquiry into action of UK Equality and Human Rights Commission.
What was the enquiry?
The IVRA enquired into the reasons why the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission removed examples of philosophical belief which referred to veganism in the Code of Practice (Employment) to the forthcoming Equality Act 2010.
In the Draft Code of Practice the EHRC used veganism as an example of what constitutes a “belief” for the purposes of rights and equality legislation. In the final published Code of Practice, the examples relating to veganism had been removed. IVRA sought to obtain information regarding the removal of the vegan examples.
The EHRC states that veganism was used as an example of “belief” in the Draft Code of Practice for the purposes of explaining equality and rights law but that they felt there was a better example which reflected the principles in case law. The EHRC also states that the removal of the example of veganism in the Code of Practice does not imply a denial of protection in law for vegan belief. The EHRC also points out that case law has recognised veganism as a belief under the European Convention of Human Rights, and under the Human Rights Act.
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