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Yhdenvertaisuus ja tasa-arvo

Equality and non-discrimination

Published19.12.2022
According to Finnish law, everyone is entitled to be treated equally regardless of their background, gender or other characteristics. Discrimination is a crime. This page gives information on what discrimination is and where you can find help if you have experienced discrimination.

Non-discrimination

The Non-discrimination 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.

Examples of non-discrimination

Rights of people with disabilities

A person with a disability has the right to do the same things as other people. A person with a disability has the right to study, work and start a family. According to the Non-Discrimination Act, employers and educational institutions must promote the possibilities for people with disabilities to work and receive an education. If necessary, a working environment must be changed in such a way that it is more accessible for a person with a disability to work there.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Disabled persons.

Rights of sexual and gender minorities

Finnish law states that no one may be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation. The law also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

In Finland, two people of the same sex can marry one another.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Marriage in Finland.

What is discrimination?

If you are treated more poorly than others in the same situation because of a personal characteristic, this could be considered discrimination.

Examples of discrimination:

  • If the lessor insists that the tenant must have Finnish citizenship.

  • If the employer insists on perfect Finnish language skills even though the work does not require them.

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

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. If you fall victim to a racist crime, contact the police.

You will find information on the InfoFinland page Important authorities how to report a crime.

Aid to a victim of discrimination

Non-discrimination advice

If you suspect that you have been discriminated against, you can contact the non-discrimination advice of Victim Support Finland. Non-discrimination advice helps by telephone. You can find the contact information on the Victim Support Finland website.

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 Non-Discrimination 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.

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 e-mail or a letter in any other language. You can find the contact information on the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal website.

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.

Discrimination at work

The InfoFinland page Equality and equal opportunities in working life gives you information on what you can do if you encounter discrimination in the workplace.

The InfoFinland page Problems in working life contains information on many common problems in working life and how to find help.

Equality between men and women

According to Finnish law, men and women have the same rights.

In Finland, it is common that women also work even if they have children. Both men and women are responsible for taking care of children and the home. Women do not need their spouse’s or parents’ permission to work or study.

Women and men can decide whom they marry. A forced marriage is a crime in Finland. Parents do not have the right to force or pressure their child to marry, for example. Both women and men are entitled to file for a divorce. A divorce can also be granted without the consent of the other spouse. No one has the right to prevent another person from filing for a divorce.

Violence is always a crime in Finland. Violence that occurs in a family and a relationship, such as physical and sexual violence, is always a crime. The InfoFinland page Problems in the family contains information on where you can get help if a member of your family uses violence.

Equality in working life

Women and men must be treated equally in working life. The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on gender. This means, for example, that a higher salary must not be paid to a man compared to a woman on the basis of gender, and a female employee cannot be fired just because she is pregnant.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Equality and equal opportunities in working life.