European network of legal experts in the non-discrimination field
  • Go to Logo Human European Consultancy
  • Go to the Migration Policy Group


The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2014 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

The information contained on this page has been produced by the country expert from the network.

Pia Justesen

Country context

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Parliament [Folketinget] debated whether legislation on discrimination in the labour market due to race, religion or other grounds should be enacted. The social partners, i.e. employers´ organisations and employees´ organisation in the labour market rejected the proposal, arguing that Denmark has a tradition of collective agreements in the labour market instead of legislation. As no such collective agreements on anti-discrimination were concluded, victims of discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion were not protected until 1996, when legislation was finally enacted.

Main pinciples and definitions

Direct discrimination is defined as a situation where one person is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on grounds of racial or ethnic origin (cf. Section 1(2) of the Act on the Prohibition of Discrimination in the Labour Market and Section 3 (2) of the Act on Ethnic Equal Treatment).

Enforcing the law

If the alleged case of discrimination is a criminal matter, the victim should report it to the police.

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.

Material scope

In the public and private labour market, discrimination is prohibited on the grounds of race, colour of skin, religion or faith, political conviction, sexual orientation, age, disability and national, social or ethnic origin. In civil law covering areas outside the labour market, only discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnic origin is prohibited.

Equality bodies

A. The Institute for Human Rights – The National Human Rights Institute of Denmark


Legal Basis

The Institute for Human Rights – The National Human Rights Institute of Denmark (DIHR) has been designated as a body for the promotion of equal treatment and effective protection against discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin as set out in Article 13 of the Racial Equality Directive since 2003. A new act from 2012 clarified the role of DIHR as a separate and independent institution (Consolidated Act No. 553 of 18 June 2012). The act also specifies the role of the DIHR with regard to the promotion of equality and non-discrimination and specifies the mandate of the Institute as a Specialised Equality Body on race and ethnic origin as well as on gender under the EU-Directives.


Mandate and Competences

In accordance with the requirements of Article 13 of the Directive, DIHR has been given the authority to assist victims of discrimination, to conduct surveys concerning discrimination and to publish reports and make recommendations on discrimination.

According to the 2012 act, DIHR must issue a yearly report to the Parliament on the human rights situation in Denmark, which includes the situation of persons with disabilities.


Go to the European Commission - Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities This initiative is financed by the EC Programme Progress. But the views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the official views of the EU institutions.