The Ombudsman for Equality monitors compliance with the Equality Act and only handles matters which relate to the Act and gender equality.

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page we have compiled the answers to questions that are often posed to the Ombudsman for Equality and which relate to the work of the Ombudsman. Some of these questions relate to matters which are the responsibility of some other authority than the Ombudsman for Equality. Please check if you can find an answer to your question here before you write to us.

 

Compulsory military service
Why does the Ombudsman for Equality not intervene in the fact that the compulsory military service only applies to men?
Answer: The fact that the compulsory military service only applies to men is often seen as discrimination. When Parliament passed the Equality Act, it decided that compulsory military service for men does not constitute discrimination as prohibited by the Equality Act. Compulsory military service is regulated by the Conscription Act. The Ombudsman for Equality does not have the authority to change laws.

The only way to make changes to laws in Parliament is by government proposal, a bill introduced by a Member of Parliament, or by citizens' initiative.

Ethnic origin
I have been subjected to discrimination based on my ethnicity. What should I do?
Answer: Discrimination based on ethnicity and nationality is prohibited under the Non-Discrimination Act. Compliance with the Non-Discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and within working life by occupational safety and health authorities (Regional State Administrative Agencies, AVI). You can turn to them if you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of your ethnicity.

the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI)

Benefits: pension/financial aid for students/pay subsidy/social assistance
I was not granted a pension/financial aid for students/pay subsidy/social assistance. What should I do?
Answer: The Ombudsman for Equality cannot comment on decisions made by other authorities. If you want to appeal a decision you should contact the authority who grants the benefit in question to find out how you can appeal their decision.

Personal assistant
Is it allowed to specifically advertise for a man or a woman when looking for a personal assistant/carer?
Answer: According to the Equality Act the work of a personal assistant/carer is of such a personal nature that it can be considered a legitimate reason for advertising specifically for a woman or a man.

Custody
I have been subjected to discrimination in a custody dispute because of my gender. Can I appeal to the Ombudsman for Equality?
Answer: The Ombudsman for Equality does not comment on issues relating to the custody or maintenance of a child. The Ombudsman for Equality does also not comment on court rulings or individual decisions made by the social authorities.

Age limits
Are restaurants allowed to set different age limits for women and men?
Answer: No, setting different age limits for women and men violates the Equality Act.

Age discrimination
I have been subjected to discrimination based on my age. What should I do?
Answer: Age discrimination is prohibited under the Equality Act. Compliance with the Non-Discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and within working life by labour protection officials (regional state administrative agencies, AVI). You can turn to them if you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of your age.

the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI)

Father's Day/Mother's Day/International Women's Day
Is it allowed to have discounts only for men/women on Father's Day/Mother's Day/International Women's Day?
Answer: On Father's Day/Mother's Day and International Women's Day it is allowed to have promotions, discounts and other offers for only one gender if they are of a small monetary value.

Gyms
Do separate gym sessions/gyms for women and men violate the Equality Act?
Answer: Taking reasons of modesty/decency into consideration does not constitute prohibited discrimination under the Equality Act.

Advertising and marketing
I saw an advertisement which insulted my gender. Can the Ombudsman for Equality intervene in the matter?
Answer: The Equality Act does not apply to advertising, even if an advertisement may shape and uphold attitudes which delay the implementation of equality.

The Consumer Ombudsman can intervene in marketing that for example represses, degrades or insults one gender or uses violence for effect. The Consumer Ombudsman

The Council of Ethics in Advertising works in the field of advertising and gives out guidelines in order to influence the practices of advertising and marketing. The basic rules or advertising require that advertisers also assume their social responsibility. ► The Council of Ethics in Advertising

You can also send feedback directly to the advertiser.

Freedom of speech and the media
My gender was insulted in a newspaper/magazine article/online article/TV programme. Can the Ombudsman for Equality intervene in the matter?
Answer: Opinions and comments are not usually considered discrimination as defined by the Equality Act. The persons expressing and publishing the opinion are protected by freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the Constitution. Because of views on freedom of speech the Ombudsman for Equality does not usually interfere in individual articles or other opinions expressed or pictures published in the media.

Freedom of speech has been restricted in the Criminal Code, which prescribes e.g. defamation, aggravated defamation, unlawful threats and ethnic agitation as punishable acts.

Everyone who wants to bring a case regarding good journalistic practice or freedom of expression and publication before the Council for Mass Media can appeal to the Council. ► The Council for Mass Media

You can also send feedback directly to the publisher or writer.

Sexual orientation
I have been subjected to discrimination based on my sexual orientation. What should I do?
Answer: Discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited under the Non-Discrimination Act. Compliance with the Non-Discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and within working life by labour protection officials (regional state administrative agencies, AVI). You can turn to them if you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation.

 the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI)

Gender marking in job titles
A gender-specific job title, such as hostess/barman/stewardess, is used in job advertisement. Can I apply for the job despite my gender? 
Answer: Yes, you can. The Ombudsman for Equality has advised employers to use gender-neutral job titles. The job market and legislation still use many gender-specific job titles. Some job titles, such as titles with the suffix -man, may give and strengthen the impression that someone in that specific profession is of a specific gender. According to the Ombudsman for Equality it is recommended to use a job title that does not refer to gender at all.

Religion
I have been subjected to discrimination based on my religion/conviction. What should I do?
The Non-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion. Compliance with the Non-Discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and within working life by labour protection officials (regional state administrative agencies, AVI). You can turn to them if you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of your religion.
► the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI)

Disability
I have been subjected to discrimination based on my disability. What should I do?
Answer: The Non-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of disability. Compliance with the Non-Discrimination Act is monitored by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and within working life by labour protection officials (regional state administrative agencies, AVI). You can turn to them if you suspect that you have been discriminated against because of your disability.

► the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman
Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI)

The operation of authorities
I have dealt with an authority, and I do not feel that their conduct was fair. What should I do?
Answer: The Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice monitor the operations of authorities and officials. Both of these bodies ensure that the authorities follow the law and fulfil their obligations when carrying out their duties. If you are unhappy with the way an authority has acted in your case, you can contact the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice.

the Parliamentary Ombudsman
the Chancellor of Justice