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Main legislation

Anti-discrimination legislation in Denmark does not consist of one single piece of legislation. It is rather a combination of many acts, which have been introduced or amended when public debate or the ratification of international obligations has focused on a specific field of application or a specific vulnerable group. Hence, protection against discrimination is ensured by a web of civil and criminal legislation ranging from the Constitution to specific acts covering areas outside and inside the labour market, making it a challenge to explain and for the public to understand.

The Danish Constitution provides that no Danish subject shall be deprived of his or her liberty because of his or her political or religious convictions or because of his or her descent. Moreover, no person shall be denied the right to full enjoyment of civil and political rights by reason of his creed or descent, nor shall he for such reasons evade any common civil duty. Furthermore, the Constitution provides that no one shall be liable to make personal contributions to any denomination other than the one to which he adheres. Finally, the Constitution provides that citizens shall be entitled to form congregations for the worship of God in a manner consistent with their convictions, provided that nothing at variance with good morals or public order shall be taught or done.

The Criminal Code prohibits the dissemination of statements or other information by which a group of people are threatened, insulted or degraded on account of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation.

In addition it shall be considered an aggravating circumstance if the conduct is characterised as propaganda. The Criminal Code also stipulates that, when sentencing, it must generally be considered an aggravating circumstance if an offence is based on the ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation of other individuals. In addition to the Criminal Code, the Act onthe Prohibition of Discrimination due to Race etc. (Consolidated Act No. 626 of 29 September 2009) makes it a criminal offence to refuse, in connection with a commercial or non-profit business, to serve or allow entrance to a person on the basis of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation.

In May 2003 the first Act on Ethnic Equal Treatment (Consolidated Act No. 438 of 16 May 2012) was adopted. The aim of the Act is to ensure protection against discrimination based on race or ethnic origin and to implement the non-employment aspects of the EU Racial Equality Directive. The Act on Equal Ethnic Treatment includes a prohibition against discrimination on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin as regards access to social protection, including social security and health care, social benefits, education, access to and supply of goods and services, including housing, and membership of and access to services from organisations whose members carry on a particular profession. The Act also includes a prohibition against harassment on the grounds of race and ethnic origin.

The Act on the Prohibition of Discrimination in the Labour market etc. (Consolidated Act No. 1349 of 16 December 2008), which was first adopted in 1996, prohibits direct and indirect discrimination based on race, skin colour, religion or faith, political conviction, sexual orientation, age, disability and national, social or ethnic origin. The Act prohibits discrimination in connection with recruitment, dismissal, transfer and promotion as well as discrimination with regard to pay and working conditions and also provides protection against harassment. Similarly, employers are not allowed to discriminate among employees as regards access to vocational education and training, continued training and retraining. The same prohibition applies to people providing guidance and training as well to those involved in work placement activities and in making rules and decisions about the right to perform professional activities and membership of workers’ and employers’ organisations.

The discrimination grounds of age, sexual orientation, disability and religion and belief do not currently enjoy protection outside the labour market in Danish civil law. Criminal law covers direct differential treatment with regard to access to public places and services on the grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation outside the labour market, but not age or disability. Moreover, criminal law does not cover indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation.

Denmark has signed and ratified all major human rights conventions except the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Denmark has signed but not yet ratified the COE Revised European Social Charter.

Denmark is a party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Denmark signed the CRPD 30 March 2007 and ratified it in the summer of 2009. The convention entered into force 23 August 2009. Since 2011 the Institute for Human Rights – The National Human Rights Institute of Denmark (DIHR) has had the task of promoting, protecting and monitoring the implementation of the CRPD according to article 33 (2) of the CRPD.

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