Prohibition of discrimination

Everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to equal treatment. This right is considered so important that it is enshrined in the Constitution. Article 1 of the Constitution contains that in the Netherlands in situations involving equal circumstances all people have to be treated the same way and it is forbidden to discriminate.

Grounds of discrimination

In total, Dutch law specifies the following grounds of discrimination:

  • race;
  • sex;
  • hetero- or homosexual orientation;
  • political opinion;
  • religion;
  • belief;
  • disability or chronic illness;
  • civil status;
  • age;
  • nationality;
  • working hours (full time or part time);
  • type of contract (temporary or permanent).

Equal treatment law

Various statutory provisions prohibit discrimination on one or more of the above-mentioned grounds. Besides Article 1 of the Constitution, these include:

  • the Equal Treatment Act;
  • the Equal Treatment of Disabled and Chronically Ill People Act;
  • the Equal Treatment in Employment (Age Discrimination) Act;
  • the Equal Treatment (Men and Women) Act.

Freedom of expression

The Netherlands guarantees freedom of expression, which is laid down in Article 7 of the Dutch Constitution. This freedom is not absolute, which means that it is subject to certain limitations. This is because Article 7 of the Constitution can sometimes clash with Article 1. For example, a journalist may express an opinion concerning a particular religion in an article but may not use that article to incite hatred against followers of that religion.