Flanders will no longer be a contributing member of Belgium’s anti-discrimination centre Unia, in a move which makes the Flemish region the first one in Belgium to cut contributions to the institution.
The news came hours after regional government negotiators reached a coalition agreement for the new legislature, of which a central focus will be to balance out the region’s finances.
Reported by HLN, the region’s pullout will likely tip Unia’s budget off-balance, since the centre was financed jointly by the federal and regional governments, as well as the language communities, with Flanders’ contribution in 2015 totalling €800,000.
Unia, officially named the Inter-Federal Equal Opportunities Centre, had been in the crosshairs of the Nieuw Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) —one of the leading parties in the new regional coalition— with regional ministers of the nationalist party in 2017 criticising the centre as being biased.
“If a blonde, blue-eyed woman files a complaint after being called a nazi prostitute (sic), she has zero chances of being heard,” integration minister Liesbeth Homans said at the time. “But if a veiled woman (sic) introduces a complaint after being insulted, her chances of being heard are of 100%.”
During a press conference organised after the coalition agreement was reached, N-VA chairman Bart de Wever told reporters that Flanders would seek to set up its own equal opportunities institute, according to live reports by the outlet.
Gabriela Galindo The Brussels Times
Update: This article has been updated to include the most recent information about the creation of a Flemish anti-discrimination centre.