Law Minister Anisul Huq on Tuesday placed an Anti-Discrimination Bill in parliament to enact a law with the aim of ensuring equal rights and dignity for all in the country.
The bill was later sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry concerned for further scrutiny. The committee was asked to submit its report within 30 days.
BNP-backed lawmaker Md Harunur Rashid criticised the bill, saying there was no provision against state-sponsored discrimination.
"Many job seekers are not getting jobs because of their political affiliation with BNP even after recommendations of the Public Service Commission. The state is discriminating here but we do not see any word against that in the bill," he said.
The parliament member also sought explanations for several provisions in the proposed law.
In reply, Law Minister Anisul Huq said all the issues would be discussed when the bill comes to the parliamentary standing committee.
"I will reply to all his [ Harunur Rashid's] questions," the minister said.
What the bill contains
The bill suggests forming an anti-discrimination cell under the Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division to ensure rights for all.
The proposed law also recommends committees at three levels – districts, divisions, and national – to take complaints from victims.
If anyone believes he is a victim of discrimination, he can file a complaint initially with the district-level committee. The committee would settle the issue within 30 days. If that fails, the victim may submit the complaint to the divisional committee and would have to wait another 30 days.
If the issue is not settled, he can go to the national committee which can take up to another 45 days. After three and a half months, the victim will be allowed to go to court if the complaint remains unsettled.
The proposed law defined several acts as discriminatory, including preventing, controlling or restricting the entry or presence of any person or group in public places and depriving them of government, semi-government, autonomous and private organisation services.
Other key discriminations are: prohibiting individuals or groups from taking up any legitimate occupations or jobs or conducting legitimate business and forbidding them to observe any religious programmes.
Refusing to enroll children in educational institutions for their lack of parental identity or refusing those having disabilities or belonging to the third gender are also described as discrimination.