Many face discrimination and racism daily

Syrjintä ja rasismi loukkaavat ihmisoikeuksia. Discrimination and racism violate human rights.Discrimination is a crime and equality a fundamental human right. However, many face discrimination and racism in Finland on a daily basis. Around 70 per cent of the Finnish Roma population, for example, have been discriminated against during the last twelve months, according to a recent survey.

The right to live without discrimination is guaranteed by international human rights conventions and national laws. Finnish laws are based on international human rights conventions, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the International Labour Organisation Constitution.

In an equal world all people are equal irrespective of their age, ethnic and national origin, nationality, language, religion and faith, opinion, disability, health, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, expression of gender or any other issue dependent on person.

Equality in Finnish law

Disability or the colour of skin, for example, are not impediments for access to education, employment or services. Discrimination occurs when the equality principle is not realised – non-discrimination is a precondition for equality.

The equality principle, i.e. the prohibition of discrimination, and equality before the law, is written in the Finnish Constitution. The law on equality prohibits discrimination, harassment and any orders to discriminate. Circumstances of birth are different for all and hence equal treatment does not guarantee equality and equal opportunities. Therefore the law on equality obliges officials to actively advance equality and change circumstances under which equality is not realised. In addition to the constitution and the law on equality many other laws further define non-discrimination: for instance, the Finnish criminal code includes crimes of discrimination, such as discrimination, work discrimination, extortionate work discrimination, as well as ethnic agitation, while the Non-Discrimination Act prohibits harassment and gender discrimination.

The Finnish League for Human Rights works towards equality

The experts at the League for Human Rights lobby for the advancement of equality and the eradication of discrimination in Finland. We actively take part in the preparatory work for laws and policies, give statements on current equality issues and follow up and conduct research on the subject in Finland. Recently, we have taken an active role in the preparation of the new Non-Discrimination Act. We also provide training on equality for work communities and organisations.

The Finnish League for Human Rights also plays a part in the Discrimination-Free Zone Campaign, jointly organised by the Ministry of the Interior and non-governmental organisations. The campaign promotes for organisations and work communities to publicly commit to equality. A pledge to commit to the campaign is a sign for the employees, job applicants and clients that the organisation welcomes everyone as equal. The League of Human Rights’ office is also a discrimination-free zone.

More information:

www.yhdenvertaisuus.fi: Information on equality, guidebooks on the advancement of equality and advice for those who have experienced discrimination.

www.ihmisoikeudet.net: The prominent human rights conventions prohibiting discrimination. Only in Finnish.