Human rights

Last updated: 12/12-2022

The UN’s universal declaration of human rights states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human rights are universal, which means that they apply to all people.

Human rights are defined in various legal texts – conventions and covenants – known as international human rights instruments. There are nine core human rights instruments, and Sweden has ratified seven of them.

Examples of human rights include the right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to information, the right to culture and the right to freedom from violence.

Some groups in society are particularly vulnerable and therefore have extra rights protection. Such groups include women, children, persons with functional impairments, and LGBTQ persons (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, questioning/queer).


In Sweden it is forbidden to discriminate against anyone because of their:

  • gender
  • transgender identity or expression
  • ethnicity
  • religion or other faith doctrine
  • functional impairment
  • sexual orientation
  • age

Sweden has also ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The convention has been enshrined in Swedish law since 1995.

If your rights are violated you can turn to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.

In Sweden human rights are also protected under several fundamental laws (grundlagar). One of these is the Instrument of Government, which includes a rights catalogue of our fundamental rights and freedoms.

The catalogue includes:

  • Freedoms of opinion (freedom of speech, of information, of religion etc)
  • Physical integrity and freedom of movement (bans on the death penalty and on torture etc)
  • Legal certainty (deprivation of liberty and legal redress etc)
  • Protection of property and the right of public access (the right to spend time in nature etc)
  • Copyright protection (ownership rights to one's works)
  • Freedom of trade (pursuit of a trade or profession)
  • Industrial action in the labour market (the rights to strikes, to lock-outs etc)
  • Education and research (the right to a basic education etc).


Det finns olika lokala och regionala antidiskrimineringsbyråer i Sverige. De kan ge råd och stöd till dig som blivit utsatt för diskriminering.

Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – the Equality Ombudsman

Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (DO), or the Equality Ombudsman in English, is a government agency that monitors compliance with the Discrimination Act. If you have been subjected to discrimination, you can send a tip-off or a complaint to DO.

DO uses tip-offs and complaints to ensure that the act is complied with, not to resolve discrimination issues of private individuals.