The opinion was issued in the proceedings regarding the complaint that AA and BB from … submitted against the Eating outlet…, due to discrimination based on gender and appearance. The complaint states, among other things, that the Eating outlet… advertises its product in public space and through social networks in a way that belittles, insults, and discriminates against women, reducing them to their physical appearance and certain body parts. The complaint further states that the female body in the aforementioned advertisements is abused and used “in such a way that it is completely devoid of any spiritual element, almost reduced to plastic dolls”, whereby the abuse is reflected in “abstracting the body from the person and insisting only on the body itself”, which implies “exploitation of the bosom, buttocks, legs…”.. Furthermore, in the complaint, it was stated that the Eating outlet…, with such behavior, promotes sexism, gender stereotypes and prejudices against women. In the complaint, it was pointed out that on one of the advertisements, as well as on the Facebook page of this eating outlet, a naked female body is shown, followed by an ambiguous message, with a clear sexual connotation, “Not every pizza is the same!”, and that it clearly follows from this that the body of women in advertisements is sexualized, which reduces a woman to an object of desirability only. Considering that VV, the entrepreneur/owner of the Eating outlet…, did not submit a statement on the allegations in the complaint within the legally prescribed time limit, the Commissioner, in accordance with the rule on the burden of proof from Article 45 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, considered the evidence and facts stated in the complaint, as well as the evidencee that is publicly available to an unlimited number of people on the Facebook page “…”. After the conducted proceedings and the presented evidence, it was established that the posts on the Facebook page of the Eating outlet… as well as the advertising of this subject on the billboard, are advertisements for food products, dominated by photographs of women dressed in intimate underwear with eroticized highlighting of certain parts of the female body, followed by ambiguous messages with sexual connotations. The Law on Prohibition of Discrimination prescribes, as one of the forms of discrimination, harassing and humiliating behavior that aims at or represents a violation of the dignity of a person or a group of persons based on their personal characteristics, especially if it creates a humiliating or offensive environment. The law also prohibits, among other things, the expression of hatred, disparagement, blackmail, and harassment with regard to gender, as well as public advocacy, support and acting in accordance with prejudices, customs and other social patterns of behavior that are based on the idea of gender subordination or superiority, i.e., stereotypical gender roles. After the proceedings, the Commissioner issued the opinion that the Eating outlet…, with the posts on its Facebook page, as well as with the advertisement on the billboards, violated the provisions of Article 12, in connection with Article 20, paragraph 2 of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. The Eating outlet… was recommended to remove the controversial advertisement from the billboards on which it was published, and on which it is still located, and to remove from its Facebook page all posts that harass and humiliate women, which in particular include posts from March 16, 2021, April 23, 2021, and April 25, 2021.
COMMISSIONER FOR THE PROTECTION OF EQUALITY