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Equal treatment

The principle of equal treatments means that people must not be discriminated against on the grounds of certain assigned criteria.

The Equal Treatment Act, effective in Estonia, lists 8 criteria for the purposes of unlawful discrimination. These are: nationality (ethnic origin), race, colour, religion or other beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender. 

Discrimination is the unjustified unequal treatment of people, as a result of which one person is placed in a worse position than the other person in the same or similar situation. In the case of suspicion of discrimination, the case can be referred to the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner for an opinion. Discrimination disputes are resolved by a court or a labour dispute committee. Discrimination disputes are resolved by the Chancellor of Justice by way of conciliation proceedings.

The Equal Treatment Act entered into force on 1 January 2009. The purpose of this Act is to ensure the protection of persons against discrimination on grounds of the aforementioned criteria. Discrimination on grounds of gender is regulated by Gender Equality Act.

  • The responsibility for the promotion and coordination of equal treatment (concerning sexual orientation, age, disability) and the preparation of the respective draft legislation falls upon the Ministry of Social Affairs. 


LGBT is an abbreviation used to refer to sexual orientation or gender identity – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Sometimes, additional capital letters are added to the abbreviation – for instance, I to designate intersex people, i.e. people born with the characteristics of both gender groups, Q or ? for people who are not sure about their sexual orientation or do not wish to label themselves. 


For people with disabilities

Estonia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. The purpose of the Convention is to:

  • promote,  protect  and  ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and
  • promote respect for their inherent dignity.

By ratifying the Convention, Estonia has set itself the objective to continuously improve the situation of persons with disabilities. For more information read the first Estonian report concerning the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in English (PDF).

You can learn about the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and examine the reports of other Member States on the website of the Committee

The Accessibility Council is a permanent advisory council created to solve matters of accessibility and universal design, and submit conclusions and proposals to the Minister of Social Protection. The Council meets at least twice a year. 


Valuing Diversity

The term diversity refers to a value judgment, as well as a principle to increase tolerance and respect of differences. This is an underlying principle, which presupposes the incorporation of equal treatment, respect of rights, and involvement in the general strategy of the organisation. Join the Diversity Charter here.

Last updated: 13 July 2017