Protection against discrimination

Protection against discrimination is a human right. Discrimination means that certain people or groups are treated worse that other and this is a violation of human rights.

The Equality Ombudsman

The Equality Ombudsman is a central government authority that works for the equal rights and opportunities of all. The Equality Ombudsman has to ensure compliance with the Discrimination Act.

Pursuant to the Discrimination Act, it is forbidden for businesses and organisation to treat certain people worse than others because of their gender, gender identity or gender expression, religion or other belief, age, ethnic affiliation, disability or sexual orientation.

Workplaces and schools must have a plan to tackle discrimination. You can contact the Equality Ombudsman if you have been discriminated against. More information is available on the Equality Ombudsman's website:

There are various independent local and regional anti-discrimination bureaus in Sweden. Their work includes offering advice and support to people who find themselves subjected to discrimination. You can read more (in Swedish) about the anti-discrimination bureaus here:

Norms concerning gender and sexuality

All societies have norms concerning how people are to conduct their lives. Norms are ideas and rules concerning what is regarded as right and wrong and how people are to behave. The norm that all people are regarded as or have to be heterosexual is very strong. In the majority of societies, there are also strong norms that men and women have to be different and have different roles.

The Rainbow flag (also known as the Pride flag) is a symbol of the LGBT movement. It symbolises respect and tolerance between people and diversity among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Photo: Colourbox

In Sweden, everyone has the right to live with and marry whichever partner they choose, regardless of gender. The gender you feel you are yourself is usually called gender identity. Gender identity is not associated with the body you have, but rather with the gender you feel you belong to.

LGBT stands for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Transgender is a term used for people who do not want to belong to either the category 'men' or the category 'women'. Transgender people can perceive themselves as men, women, both men and women, or neutral, regardless of what biological gender they are. The letter Q is often added to LGBT and stands for 'queer', which is an attitude//stance that criticises society's heterosexual norm. Queer can also be used to describe a sexual orientation, in which case it can mean a person who does not care which gender a person is attracted to and falls in love with. It can also mean that a person is unable or unwilling to define their sexual orientation within the traditional terminology. You can read more on the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights' website:

Everybody has the right to express their gender identity in the way they want to. Discrimination is when someone is treated worse than others because s/he is homosexual, bisexual or a transgender person, or uses expressions that challenge norms about how women and men should be.

Freedom of religion

Sweden has had freedom of religion since 1951. Freedom of religion means that everyone has a right to choose whichever religion or belief they want. Freedom of religion is considered one of the most important rights in the Swedish constitution. There is information about freedom of religion in many international agreements, for example the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The state must respect, protect and work to ensure freedom of religion.

  • All people must have the right to choose, change and leave their religion.
  • All people must have the right to practice their religion. This includes the right to start religious associations.
  • Everyone has the right to write and publish magazines and information.
  • Everyone has the write to teach a religion and celebrate religious festivals.
  • No one will be discriminated against because of their beliefs.
  • Parents have a right to give their child a religious upbringing in accordance with their beliefs.
  • Employers should demonstrate an openness to their employees' needs with regard to practising their beliefs in the workplace.

Ethnic affiliation

People from various parts of the world live in Sweden. Ethnic affiliation means that everyone has an origin in one or more cultures and ethnic group. All people have one or more ethnic affiliation. Being treated worse because of your ethnic affiliation is discrimination and a violation of your human rights.

Disability and accessibility

Many people have one or more functional impairments, such as difficulty seeing, speaking, hearing, moving or concentrating. Society has to be accessible to all. There must not be barriers that prevent people with impairments from taking part in community life. One example of the efforts to create a more accessible society is the adaptation of public buildings so that people with mobility difficulties can access them and use them.


Being treated worse because someone else thinks you are too old or too young is discrimination. There are laws and rules that determine it is permitted to treat younger and older people differently in certain cases. For example, there are set age limits for when someone may obtain a driving licence or be served alcohol.


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This site contains information about the Swedish society and is run by the County Administrative Boards of Sweden
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