No. 07-00-00150/2017-02 Date: 10 July 2017
The present opinion was issued following a complaint procedure lodged by G.D.S. on account of article entitled “Gray power”, published on 2 April 2017 by “D.” daily newspaper. The complainant claimed that this article was “extremely ageistic” as it calls for disenfranchisement of persons who are 65 plus years old, characterizing such persons as being “miserable, poor and dissatisfied” and that they always tend to vote for “despotism prone candidates”. In their declaration, among other things, editors stated that the editorial staff of this daily newspaper thought that the text’s author, a young philosopher I. Ž., enjoyed sufficient credibility making it possible for them to publish his opinion in their daily newspaper, but that articles containing such opinions tend to thrust some delicate issues into the spotlight which naturally can cause people to have conflicting opinions on and different views of the matter. The analysis of the article entitled “Gray power” showed that in the introduction of the article, set in red print, the author stresses the following: “Bearing in mind that voting age eligibility criterion (18 years of age) was arbitrarily set, another way to tackle the problem of the elderly influencing politics would be to lower this age limit to 16 years of age, thus increasing the share of young voters in the constituency.” Therefore, at the very outset the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality found that the introduction itself gives a clear outline of the author’s views which he went on to elaborate and propound further in the text, stating that participation of the elderly in political life is a problem which must be dealt with so as to diminish their influence on political decisions. In the course of the procedure, it was ascertained that in this article the author had expressed his view according to which older persons, considering that they “live worse than they used to”, vote for “despotism prone candidates” by default, which is “an irrational decision” but nevertheless it has a direct impact on shaping public policies, and in order to prevent such outcomes “voting rights for the elderly should be restricted”. Such claims by the author have created a degrading environment for older persons, alleging that due to their socio-economic status their voting right should be restricted and then he proceeded to consider ways in which this could be done. These author’s views have upset elderly persons. The Commissioner for the Protection of Equality indicated that both international and national regulations set a general standard which provides for a principle of general and equal elections, as well as for the prohibition of discrimination on any grounds with respect to the entitlement to this right. Thus, preventing any segment of population from exercising their right to vote would be in stark contrast to democratic values and principles of social solidarity and justice. With reference to the aforementioned, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality found that the author’s conclusion given at the end of the article that “despite the fact that all mentioned options aimed at addressing the issue of the elderly having impact on creating public policies would further complicate the election process, principles of justice must not be sacrificed for the sake of election process simplicity”, has upset and humiliated our elderly citizens and has sent out a tendentious message to readers suggesting that decisions made by older persons amount to such a problem that by placing restrictions on their right to vote i.e. preventing them from participating in political processes, constitutes a just solution which would be in the best interest of the whole society. Hence, the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality issued an opinion stating that views expressed in the article entitled “Gray power” published in “D.” daily newspaper were upsetting and humiliating to the elderly and that dignity of older persons has been insulted, namely that publishing this article constitutes a violation of provisions of the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination. The Commissioner recommended to the Editor-in-chief of “D.” daily newspaper to publish a written apology to older persons in “D.” daily newspaper within 15 days from receiving this opinion containing recommendations for achieving equality, to refrain in the future from publishing articles which insult the dignity of older persons but rather to strive to alter patterns, mores and practices which foster stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination of older persons.
Commissioner for the Protection of Equality