Equal Rights

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Equal Rights


the officially recognized equality of citizens (subjects) before the state, the law, and the courts; one of the fundamental elements of democracy. The constitutional guarantees of equal rights and the extent to which equal rights are realized indicate the level of democracy in a society and state system.

The principle of equal rights was advanced as one of the most important principles of the state during the age of bourgeois revolutions, which abolished the estate relations of feudal society. (The slogan of the French Revolution was “Liberty, equality and fraternity.”) Although it was proclaimed in the first bourgeois constitutions and declarations, the principle of equal rights was limited in scope and had only formal legal significance. Formal equality, or freedom of contract, concealed the socioeconomic inequality of the capitalist and the wage worker, the exploiter and the exploited. In a number of bourgeois countries there is still inequality before the law (for example, the lack of equal rights for women and discrimination based on national or racial origin).

During the period of transition after a socialist revolution, the principle of equal rights is established for the working people, and restrictions may be placed on the rights and freedoms of the exploiters and their accomplices, who oppose the new system. With the building of socialism, equal rights becomes established as a fundamental constitutional right of citizens. Moreover, the constitution of the USSR contains broad guarantees of real equality (for example, arts. 35 and 36, on the equality of men and women and the equality of citizens regardless of race and nationality).

The socialist state is characterized by equality in the basic (constitutional) rights and duties of citizens and by a combination of civil liberties, social obligations, and state discipline in all aspects of the economy, the state, culture, society and politics. The Soviet Constitution and the constitutions of other socialist states preclude political privileges for some individuals and restrictions on the rights of others.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Of persons, all have equal rights, in virtue of being identical in nature.
It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the refined, who ought to have equal rights and not the canaille."
And when the petition had been read and was about to be adopted, there came forward the Irish member (who was a young gentleman of ardent temperament,) with such a speech as only an Irish member can make, breathing the true soul and spirit of poetry, and poured forth with such fervour, that it made one warm to look at him; in the course whereof, he told them how he would demand the extension of that great boon to his native country; how he would claim for her equal rights in the muffin laws as in all other laws; and how he yet hoped to see the day when crumpets should be toasted in her lowly cabins, and muffin bells should ring in her rich green valleys.
It is agreed, then, that each of them possessed equal rights, is it not?"
Colbert was a man in whom the historian and the moralist have an equal right.
1818, the question was left unsettled, and it was agreed that the country on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Rocky Mountains, claimed by either nation, should be open to the inhabitants of both for ten years, for the purpose of trade, with the equal right of navigating all its rivers.
The inhabitants of Raveloe were not severely regular in their church-going, and perhaps there was hardly a person in the parish who would not have held that to go to church every Sunday in the calendar would have shown a greedy desire to stand well with Heaven, and get an undue advantage over their neighbours-- a wish to be better than the "common run", that would have implied a reflection on those who had had godfathers and godmothers as well as themselves, and had an equal right to the burying-service.
"If the Pawnees are the owners of this land, then white and red are here by equal right."
And among the Polynesians the royal women have equal right with the men to rule.
It is a thing every man has an equal right to; he may get it if he can.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has maintained today that all ethnic groups enjoy equal rights and freedom in Malaysia.
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has said that the Constitution of Pakistan fully guaranteed equal rights to the minorities as they were the important pillar of the society.