General legal framework

AuthorChiara Favilli
Constitutional provisions on protection against discrimination and the promotion
of equality
The constitution of Italy includes the following articles dealing with non -discrimination:
Article 3: provides a general clause. It recognises equal dignity and equality under the law
without distinction on the grounds of sex, race, language, religion (belief is not mentioned
per se), p olitical opinion and personal or social conditions. The ground s of discr imination
listed in Article 3 are more restricted than those m entioned in Article 19 of the Tre aty on
the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU); however, the list has been interpreted as
non-exhaustive and the ‘reasonable clause test’ has been applied by the Constitutional
Court to any ground of unjustified difference and in any fields.15 Article 3 also includes the
principle of substantive equality and calls on the state to remove t he social and economic
obstacles which limit the freedom and equality of citizens and prevent the full development
of the human being.
Article 8(1): contains a specific clause regarding freedom and equality of religions.
Article 37(1): contains a specific clause regarding sex discrimination in labour law.
Article 37(3): contains a specific clause providing for equal pay for equal work fo r minors.
Article 51: contains a specific clause regarding equal access for women and men to elected
These provisions apply to all areas covered by the directives and there is no restriction to
their material scope. Their material scope is broader than the scope of th e directives.
These provisions are directly applicable in theory and can be enforced against private
actors (as well as against the state). However, there are not many cases of this type, while
the majority of judgments applying constitutional provisions are issue d by the
Constitutional Court with regard to the validity of laws.
15 Several judgments have been issued by the Constitutional Court applying Article 3 of the Italian
Constitution. One of the most relevant judgments in the field of sexual orientation is the Court’s judgment
of 21 April 2010, No. 10, available at: One of the few
judgments in the field of disability is the judgment of 22 February 2010, No. 80, available at:

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