European network of legal experts in the non-discrimination field
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The information contained on this page represents the situation as of 1 January 2013 and is a summary of the country report produced by the country expert from the network. The summary can be downloaded here as well.

Chiara Favilli

Country context

Discrimination on the grounds specified by the Directives is not a significant subject in Italian legal and political debate yet. As a result of the low priority attributed to discrimination by social and political actors, limited empirical research on the dimension of the actual problems has been carried out compared to the major European countries.

Main principles and definitions

The 2003 Decrees forbid direct as well as indirect discrimination with a wording that is based on that of the Directives, for all the grounds concerned. Harassment is also defined and prohibited.

Enforcing the law

In 2011 a procedural change was made, enhancing coordination between the various laws enacted over recent years. Article 28 of Legislative Decree 150/2011 revoked the special procedure for anti-discrimination cases provided by Legislative Decree 286/1998 on Immigration, which has been replaced by the general fast track procedure provided by Article 702-bis of the Civil Procedural Code.

Main legislation

Specific and detailed legislation against discrimination in respect of race, ethnic origin and religion was introduced into the Italian legal system only in 1998. Before that, the only specific legal tool was criminal legislation on ‘hate speech’ which included references to discriminatory acts of a different nature.

Material scope

The scope of application includes the same fields as listed in the Directives, and rules apply to both the private and public sectors. Unlike the 1998 Decree, discrimination on the ground of nationality is explicitly excluded from the scope of application of the Decree 215/2003, as are all legal rules concerning the status of third country nationals and stateless persons.

Equality bodies

The equality body was originally created only to deal with race and ethnic origin and is named the National Office for Opposition to Racial Discrimination - UNAR. It is not an independent body since it was established as a section of the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, which previously dealt exclusively with gender discrimination. UNAR makes use of staff from other government departments, including judges and state attorneys, as well as external experts and advisers.

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.