Sensitive or controversial issues

AuthorJustesen, Pia
11.1 Potential breaches of the directives at the national leve l
- Possible indirect discrimination based on ethnic origin and race
Discrimination and access to healthcare
According to Section 50 of the Danish Health Act, all residents with a right to free
treatment in hospitals, by general practitioners or by specialists have a right to an
interpreter when a doctor finds that an interpreter is necessary to explain the treatment.
With the primary aim of further incentivising foreigners to learn Danish, new rules
regarding interpreting fees came into force on 1 Ju ly 2018.265 According to Section 50(2 )
of the Health Act, patients who need an int erpreter and who have lived in Denmark for
more than three years are now charged a fee for the interpreting service. Among
patients who need interpretation, there is presumably an over- representation of persons
with an ethnic minority background other than Danish. Although the incentive to learn
Danish and the push to strengthen integration are legitimate aims, the means of
achieving those aims does not seem appropriate and necessary. Many of the patients
who are aff ected by the new legislation have low incomes and in spite of their need, will
not be able to afford an interpreter. Many patients with an ethnic minority background
therefore risk not getting equal ac cess to healthcare. This is documented in a new report
by the DIHR and the Danish Medical Association , which reports on the results of a survey
in which more than 600 doctors account for their experiences with the interpreter
services charge and its implications after one y ear in force.266 The report show s that the
fee has resulted in an increased u se of relatives as interp reters, and that patients who do
not speak Danish may well not receive the right healthcare. The rules may therefore
cause indirect discrimination due to ethnic origin or race in violation of Racial Equality
Directive 2000/43/EC Article 2(2)(b) and Article 3(1)(e).
No ghettos in Denmark by 2030!
As described in Section 3.2.10 (Housing), a number of laws were adopted in 2018 to
prevent and dismantle so-called ghettos and parallel societies in Denmark. The new
legislation affects primarily ethnic minorities and raises legitimate questions of possible
illegal indirect discrimination because of ethnic origin within the areas of housing,
education and social services.
Overall, the acts include strict requirements that refuge es, immigrants and descendants
from non-Western countries assimilate into Da nish society, including adapting to Danish
traditions, norms and values. The bills send very strong negative signals that everything
about the so-called ghettos and ma rginalised resid ential areas is bad and sad. All in all,
the rules may cause indirect discrimin ation due to ethnic origin or race in violation of
Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC Article 2(2)(b) and Article 3(1)(e), (g) and (h).
11.2 Other issues of concern
Denmark faces challenges and barriers for minorities to take pa rt in society on an equal
footing. Research should be undertaken to examine institutional barriers that prevent
265 Consolidated Act No. 903 of 26 August 2019 (Sundhedsloven). Regulation No. 855 of 23 June 2018
(Bekendtgørelse om tolkebistand efter sundhedsloven). The rules are described in the latest official periodic
report from Denmark to the CERD-Committee covering the period from July 2013 to December 2018. See
UN document CERD/C/DNK/22-24 of 7 February 2019, paragraphs 185-190.
266 DIHR and the Danish Medical Association (Lægeforeningen) (2019), Egenbetaling for tolkebinstand lægers
erfaring med ordningen (December 2019). See:

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT