Liechtenstein ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1995) on 18 November 1997. Although there are no national minorities in the country as defined by the Convention, Liechtenstein regularly reports on measures to promote equal opportunities, prevent discrimination, racism and intolerance, integrate foreign residents and combat right-wing extremism.
In the fifth country report published in 2020, Liechtenstein provided information on a migration study and a study on “Islam in Liechtenstein”, among other things. The purpose of the studies was to learn more about Muslim life and the lives of migrants. They served as the basis for the new integration strategy (see 2.5.1), which shows how integration can succeed and defines further improvements in the opportunities and participation of migrants as a central objective.
European micro-states like Liechtenstein are among the most economically successful countries today. This is fuelled by workers who commute to work every day from neighbouring countries. In 2019, commuters filled 55.9 per cent of jobs in Liechtenstein, compared to 34.6 per cent some thirty years ago. Liechtenstein has excellent relations with Switzerland and Austria. Almost every family has had Austrian or Swiss family members integrated for generations – mostly women.
Around 34 per cent of Liechtenstein’s inhabitants are from abroad, the vast majority belong to a Christian religion, only three to four per cent are of the Muslim faith. Racism has been a punishable offence since 2000, after Liechtenstein ratified the UN Convention against Racism and adapted the Penal Code. Since 2004, the integration of non-Liechtensteiners has been a state objective. Slightly more than half of Liechtenstein’s population are women; gender equality has been a central issue for years (see 2.5.5). The share of households receiving social assistance is 3.5 per cent, with poverty seen primarily from a financial perspective. According to estimates, 15 to 18 per cent of the population lives with some degree of disability. About 2 to 5 per cent are likely to indicate a same-sex orientation.
Since 2011, according to the Same-Sex Partnership Act (SSPA) (LGBl. 2011 No. 350), registered partnerships of same-sex couples have been equal to marriage in many respects, for example in inheritance law, social security law, law on foreign nationals, tax law, law relating to the use of names and civil law. A majority of the population, 70 per cent, approved of the SSPA. Also, two openly homosexual men and a “cross-dresser” have been elected to Parliament in the past, suggesting a degree of acceptance. According to the association FLAY for LGBTI people, there is still a need for action to sensitise the population to the issue. Liechtenstein lags behind a number of other European countries. Same-sex couples still cannot get married and adopt children.
The networking group “sichtwechsel” helps people with disabilities in Liechtenstein using an integrative approach. Members of the association include the state pension insurance OASI-IV-FAK, the “Heilpädagogisches Zentrum” and the Association of Persons with Disabilities, the Cultural Association for the Deaf, the aha youth information centre, the Educational Theatre Centre, the Office for Vocational Education and Training, the Association for Assisted Living, the School Board, the Liechtenstein Institute, the Association for Human Rights, as well as the ombudsman service for children and young people. People with and without disabilities have been working on a newspaper since 2012. The “Skino” cinema has been showing trailers in which people with disabilities have their say since 2020.
There is no extreme poverty in Liechtenstein, but there are people who are financially disadvantaged and are supported by the state. Liechtenstein’s welfare system generously steps in when people are in need. Private initiatives in Liechtenstein are also significant, whether for families, the elderly, children or people with disabilities, regardless of their origin. In addition to Caritas, Family Assistance and the Office of Social Services, the private initiative “Stiftung Liachtbleck” has existed since 2005 with the aim of helping people to overcome financial difficulties in a non-bureaucratic way.
However, the economic perspective is only one dimension of poverty. In a country with a high standard of living, poverty means that participation in society is severely limited. According to a study by the Association for Human Rights, poverty refers to the lack of provision in important areas of life such as housing, food, health, education, work and social contacts. At the same time, limited access to informal education such as clubs, leisure facilities or libraries, among other things, limits both the scope for contact and cooperation as well as the scope for learning and experience. The State of Liechtenstein wants to present a poverty report in 2023, but retains a financial perspective and so far does not recognise that many people are affected by poverty.
While integration is an attempt to integrate a minority directly into an existing majority, inclusion is about including all people from the very beginning. Everyone should be able to participate equally as self-determined individuals in and within society. Discrimination is to be reduced. Inclusion is mostly applied to people with disabilities, but also includes other groups: Sexual orientation, gender, age, origin, educational status, social situation or religion should not matter in a heterogeneous society.
In Liechtenstein, initial approaches are being seen in the field of education and culture. The Education Strategy 2025plus (see 2.1 and 2.5.2) identifies a future “inclusive attitude” as a strategic goal under the focus “Education for All”. The Liechtenstein Music School offers an inclusion workshop called “All inclusive”, where people with and without disabilities make music together. Another example was on display from April to August 2022 in an exhibition at the Liechtenstein Art Museum under the title “In the Context of the Collection: Matthias Frick”. The artist Matthias Frick (1964–2017) counted himself among the “Art Brut” (or outsider art) movement. Thrown off track for many years due to schizophrenia, he managed to develop a personal cosmology with his drawings and painterly works on paper. It was at the studio of the “Heilpädagogisches Zentrum” (HPZ) that he was able to take advantage of the opportunities to develop his talent.
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