General legal framework

AuthorTheodoridis, Athanasios
Constitutional provisions on protection against discrimination and the promotion
of equality
The Greek Constitution includes the following articles dealing with non-discrimination:
Article 4(1), Article 4(2), Article 5(1-2), Article 2(1), Article 9A, Article 16(4), Article 21(1),
Article 22(1-2)(b), Article 25(1) and Article 116(2).
The Constitution has always contained a general provision requiring equality for all Greeks
before the law (Article 4(1)). In 1975, when the Constitution came in to force, one of its
important features was the strengthening of human rights.
In its first part, the Constitution assigns to the state the primary obligation to respect and
protect the value of the human being. The Constitution also contains a specific and general
non-discrimination provision that explicitly protects all people Greek citizens and foreign
nationals,19 men and women, old and young. In particular, Article 5(1) stipulates: ΡAll
persons shall have the right to develop freely their personality and to participate in the
social, economic and political life of the country, insofar as they do not infringe the rights
of others or violate the Constitution and the good usages [i.e. the principles of m orality].
2. All persons living within the Greek territory shall enjoy full protection of their life, honour
and liberty irrespective of nationality, race or language and of religious or political beliefs.
Exceptions shall be permitted only in cases provided by international law.Σ20 Therefore,
Article 5 of the Constitution is considered as the constitutional basis of all Greek non-
discrimination law.21
Moreover, according to Article 28 of the Greek Constitution, Ρgenerally recognised rules of
international law, as well as international conventions as of the time they are ratified by
statute and become operative according to their respective conditions, shall be an integral
part of domestic Greek law and shall prevail over any contrary provision of the lawΣ.
Therefore, treaties and conventions signed and ratified by Greece that aim to protect
individuals from discrimination based on grounds other than those explicitly mentioned in
the Constitution prevail over national law.
The Constitution includes the principles of human dignity22 and the free development of
personality;23 the principle of general equality;24 the right to protection of health;25
freedom of religion; freedom of opinion and of the press; freedom of art, science, research
and teaching; the right to judicial protection; the right to be protected against misuse of
personal data;26 the right to receive free education on all levels at state educational
19 The text of the Constitution does not refer explicitly to undocumented migrants and refugees, however it is
generally accepted that a minimum of rights are constitutionally protected by virtue of Article 25(1) of the
Constitution, (which refers to Ρrights of the human being as an individual and as a member of the societyΣ)
and Article 28 (which refers to the superiority of generally recognised international rules and treaties ratified
by the state over national legislation).
20 The above excerpt has been taken from the official English version of the Constitution, as displayed on the
Greek ParliamentΣs official website. The term Ρgood usagesΣ refers to the Greek term jk . A more
precise translation of this term would be Ρprinciples of moralityΣ.
21 The grounds of disability, age and sexual orientation are considered to be constitutionally protected.
However, this protection derives from interpretation under Article 28 of the Greek Constitution (see below).
According to this article, treaties and conventions signed and ratified by Greece that aim to protect
individuals from discrimination based on these grounds prevail over national law and not because they are
explicitly included in the text of the Constitution.
22 Constitution, Article 2(1).
23 Constitution, Article 5(1).
24 Constitution, Article 4(1).
25 Constitution, Article 5(5).
26 Constitution, Article 9A.

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