Content updated 2018-12-27


A simplified description of the legal definition of discrimination is when a person is treated disfavourably or when a person's dignity is violated. The disfavourable treatment or the violation of a person's dignity must also be related to one of the seven grounds of discrimination:

  • Gender – That a person is a woman or a man.
  • Transgender identity or expression – That a person identifies as neither a woman nor a man or, through clothes (or any other means), expresses affiliation with some other gender. This concept covers both a person’s mental or self-perceived gender image and how a person expresses (e.g. through clothes, body language, make-up or hair style) what might be called “social gender”.
  • Ethnicity – An individual’s national and ethnic origin, skin colour or other equivalent particularity. As exemplified by, for example, Finns, Poles and Swedes, national origin is the fact of coming from a single nation. Ethnic origin entails people having a relatively uniform cultural background. Examples include individuals belonging to national minorities such as the Sami or the Romanies. All people have one or more ethnicities. Thus, everyone can be subjected to ethnic discrimination.
  • Religion or other belief – Covers religious philosophies such as Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Other belief includes convictions based on, or linked to, a “spiritual philosophy”, e.g. Buddhism, atheism and agnosticism.
  • Disability – A physical, mental or learning limitation that is permanent and affects a person’s abilities. It can be the result of an injury or illness at birth, or either of these arising thereafter, or being expected to arise in the future. Temporary limitations of a person’s abilities are not disabilities in the sense of the Discrimination Act.
    Disability means an impairment of physical, mental or intellectual functioning. It is something a person has, not something that a person is. A disability can be felt more or less in different situations such as allergies, dyslexia, hearing and vision damage and more.
  • Sexual orientation – Is defined as homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality.
  • Age – Being of a certain age. No matter how old they are, all people are covered by the Act’s age discrimination protection.
The Discrimination Act prohibits six forms of discrimination: direct discrimination; indirect discrimination; inadequate accessibility; harassment; sexual harassment; and, instructions to discriminate.