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Syrjintä ja rasismi
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Discrimination and racism

According to Finnish law, everyone is entitled to be treated equally regardless of their background or gender. Discrimination (syrjintä) is a crime.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination refers to unequal treatment, i.e. treating one person more poorly than another in the same situation. Discrimination can be based on ethnic group, nationality or religion etc.

Creating a threatening, hostile, disparaging or humiliating atmosphere can also be considered discrimination. In addition, inciting or directing someone to perform discriminatory acts is regarded discrimination.

Examples of discrimination include not getting service due to your ethnic origin, or being required to demonstrate perfect proficiency in Finnish at a job interview although the work itself does not require such skills.

Treating people differently is not always discrimination. People can be treated differently if there are acceptable grounds.

The Non-Discrimination Act defines what is considered discrimination.

The Act prohibits discrimination based on age, origin, nationality, language, religion, belief, opinion, political activity, trade union activity, family circumstances, health, disability, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. No one must be put in a less favourable position due to these factors.

The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on gender.

linkkiFinlex:
Non-Discrimination ActFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinnish League for Human Rights:
Information on human rightsFinnish | Swedish | English

Racism and racist offences

Racism (rasismi) refers to regarding a group of people or a person belonging to that group as inferior on the grounds of, for example, ethnic origin, skin colour, nationality, culture, mother tongue or religion. A racist offence means a crime which the offender committed for a racist reason. Racist offences can be violence, defamation, discrimination, threats, harassment or vandalism. Should you fall victim to a racist crime, contact the police.

linkkiVictim Support Finland:
Aid to crime victimsFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiPolice:
Contact information for police departmentsFinnish | Swedish | English

Where to get help?

Discrimination at work

Should you experience discrimination at work, contact your superior. If he or she cannot help you, contact the occupational safety officer (työsuojeluvaltuutettu) or employee representative (luottamusmies) at your workplace. If the issue cannot be resolved at the workplace, contact your local occupational safety district (työsuojelupiiri) or your trade union.

linkkiOccupational Safety and Health Administration:
Health and safety at workFinnish | Swedish | English

Non-Discrimination Ombudsman

If you experience discrimination outside work or you have observed discrimination elsewhere, you can contact the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman (yhdenvertaisuusvaltuutettu). In addition, you can take the matter to the police and, further, to court. You can also contact the authorities on behalf of a person or group.

The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman is an independent and autonomous authority whose task is to advance equality in Finland and to prevent and tackle discrimination. The Ombudsman can provide instructions, advice and recommendations, and find resolution in cases regarding discrimination. If needed, the Ombudsman can request the person suspected of discrimination to provide a statement of the incident. The Ombudsman can also forward or help you take your case to the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal or to court.

You can contact the office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman:

  • by telephone: 0295 666 817 Mon to Fri from 10 am to 12 noon. Service is provided in Finnish, Swedish or English.
  • by e-mail: yvv(at)oikeus.fi
  • by mail: Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, P.O. Box 24, 00023 Government

Any appointments must be agreed in advance. The services provided by the office are free of charge. If you cannot speak Finnish, Swedish or English, you can send an e-mail or a letter in any other language.

If you experience discrimination, you can also contact the National Discrimination and Equality Tribunal (yhdenvertaisuus- ja tasa-arvolautakunta. The Tribunal considers petitions on discrimination and may prohibit discrimination. The Tribunal can also impose a conditional fine to enforce the prohibition of discrimination. The Tribunal can also confirm a settlement between the parties. The Tribunal does not handle cases of employment-related discrimination.

linkkiNon-Discrimination Ombudsman:
Help for victims of discriminationFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | French | Somali | Spanish | Turkish | Chinese | Persian | Arabic | Kurdish | Albanian | German | Thai | Vietnamese | Portuguese | Tagalog | Polish

linkkiNational Discrimination and Equality Tribunal:
Help in discrimination casesFinnish | Swedish | English

Immigrant associations

If you encounter discrimination or racism, you can also get help and advice from immigrant associations. For contact details, see the InfoFinland page Associations.