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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.

Guðrún Dögg Guðmundsdóttir

Country context

Iceland’s population is largely homogenous and monocultural. Historically, the most serious discrimination has been on the grounds of gender. Although Icelandic women enjoy an elevated standard of equality there is still a demonstrable dichotomy between their high level of education and qualifications and their status in the labour market and society as a whole. 

Material scope

Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC have not been transposed into national law; no comprehensive anti-discrimination law applies to all sectors of public and private employment and occupation in relation to the grounds listed in the Directives. There is no legislation in force applying to the private sector prohibiting discrimination in relation to the grounds enumerated in the Directive regarding conditions for access to employment, to self-employment or to occupation, including selection criteria, recruitment conditions and promotion. 

Equality bodies

No equality body has been established to promote equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, age, disability or sexual orientation. No human rights commission has been established and the sole equality body in place, the Centre for Gender Equality, deals with gender only. The Parliamentary Ombudsman may deal with cases concerning equality/discrimination in relation to administrative procedure.

Main legislation

The discrimination grounds covered in the Icelandic Constitution are sex, religion, opinion, national origin, race, colour, financial status and parentage. The list is non-exhaustive as the provision also sets out that equality before the law and non-discrimination shall be ensured irrespective of the aforementioned grounds but also irrespective of ‘other status’, which can be construed as to include age.

Main principles and definitions

The definitions set out in the Directives have not been transposed into domestic law. No clear definitions of the protected grounds are found in national legislation and definitions of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation, instruction do discriminate and reasonable accommodation are lacking in this context. No exceptions are explicitly allowed for religious organizations and the law is silent on ‘genuine’ and ‘determining’ occupational requirements. Certain exceptions in relation to age requirements and physical form are found in national legislation, e.g. governing those working as police officers, fire fighters and prison guards.

No national rules address multiple discrimination and no cases have been adjudicated dealing with such situations. 

Enforcing the law

Directives 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC have not been transposed into national law and limited sanctions exist. No specific procedures have been established to deal with discrimination on the grounds enumerated in the Directives. The sole discrimination complaints body, the Gender Equality Complaints Committee, deals with gender discrimination only.

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