Intersectional Discrimination: A Slow Progression from Theory towards Legislation and Jurisprudence

Jurisprudence in European countries concerning multiple discrimination is generally scarce and does not provide adequate guidance for dealing with these cases.

Themes: Human RightsJudiciary and Access to Justice
Amila Kurtović


Intersectional discrimination - which involves discrimination on several grounds that intertwine and intersect – has been a topic of scholarly discussion since the 1990s, gradually shifting from theory towards law and jurisprudence. Nonetheless, as the author points out, the laws that regulate the protection against discrimination throughout Europe at best recognize "ordinary" multiple discrimination as one of the forms of unjustified unequal treatment. At the same time, the practice of national courts in European countries in this field is almost negligible. 

In 2017, however, the European Court of Human Rights issued a significant decision in the case of Carvalho Pinto de Sousa Morais v. Portugal concerning the problematics of intersectionality, although the judgment itself does not use the term.

The author offers an analysis of the above case and points out that, despite its significance in terms of bringing to light some aspects of this form of discrimination, the Court has not yet offered more concrete guidelines for dealing with cases that contain elements of multiple and intersectional discrimination. 

The publication in local languages is available HERE.

The publication is published within the project “Equality for All: Civil Society Coalition against Discrimination“, and is implemented in cooperation with Mediacentar Sarajevo, Analitika – Center for Social Research, Rights for All and Vaša prava BiH. This project is financed by USAID and Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This publication is published by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.