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What is equal rights?

We explain what equal rights are, their relationship with different political models and their importance in democracy.

  1. What is equal rights?

Equal rights, is the equality before the law of all human beings, without discriminating them based on conditions such as their sex, sexual orientation, origin, religion or race. In practice it is the same as the right to equality.

This means that what is established in the written law , included in codes or in the Constitution, or even those legal systems dictated by custom , should be applied as general principles of justice , and not be exercised at discretion depending on the person.

When this is fulfilled in a legal system, it is said that there is a rule of law , that is, a society governed by norms and not by individual criteria. The principle of Equality before the Law means that the law is fulfilled without distinction as to who is judged . It is also called the principle of isonomy and is one of the basic elements of modern law .

Consequently, equal rights are incompatible with discriminatory political and social models , such as slavery , servitude, colonialism, monarchy, theocracy or fascism . In these systems there are citizens first and second class citizens, therefore the laws are applied differently depending on which category belongs.

Many organizations fight internationally for a society of equal rights. However, in current democratic models there are also forms of discrimination contrary to equal rights , that is, the right to be treated as an equal by everyone and to enjoy the same exact rights.

Examples abound, unfortunately: racial discrimination for decades in the United States, which distinguished between rights for whites and blacks; the labor exploitation of African and Asian migrants in almost the entire West; or even the wage gap between men and women, which pays more to the former for doing the exact same job.

  1. Importance of equal rights

Equal rights are essential for any type of organized democratic society . Only the rule of law, that is, with a legal system that applies equally to rich, poor, blacks, whites, women, men, homosexuals and heterosexuals, allows social peace to be sustained for long periods of time .

Discrimination, segregation, racism or xenophobia are very common scourges in humanity . On the one hand, they leave a negative mark on those who practice it, since they impoverish their culture and miss the opportunity to learn from the difference. But they also harm those who suffer from it, which in some cases later also discriminate.

It has been known since ancient times that this cycle never stops, and that mixing, the acceptance of diversity , the celebration of the wealth of points of view, is the only way to achieve a just and peaceful society.

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