The definition of discrimination

AuthorChiara Favilli
2.1 Grounds of unlawful discrimination explicitly covered
The following grounds of discrimination are explicitly prohibited in the main legislation
(as listed in the Introduction) transposing and implementing the two EU anti-discrimination
directives: race and ethnic origin; religion an d personal belief; age; disability; sexual
2.1.1 Definition of the grounds of unlawful discrimination withi n the directives
The two legislative decrees t ransposing the directives do not contain any definition of the
grounds of unlawful discrimination.
a) Racial and ethnic origin
No definition is provid ed elsewhere in national law for either of the two elements of thi s
ground. It is worth mentioning that, according to Article 43 of th e Immi gration Decree,
which was inspired mainly by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), discrimination on the ground of national o rigin is
prohibited and is interpreted as covering nationality (as in citizenship). In fact,
discrimination against migrants is on e of the most common grounds for claims of
discrimination, in particular when it comes to legal distinctions on the access of third-
country nationals to social protection measures and social advantages. 16
No definition is given even in the field of equality data collection. For instance, within the
framework of the first survey on discrimination, carried out in 2011-12 by Istat, ethnic
origin was one of the grounds taken into consideration but without giving any definitions
and taking migrants as a proxy.
b) Disability
Regarding disability, a definition is given by Article 3(2) of Law 104/1992 (the Framework
Law on care, social integration and rights of people with disability,17 according to which, ‘A
disabled person is anyone who has a physical, mental or sensory impairment, of a stable
or progressive nature, that causes difficulty in learning, establishing relationships or
obtaining employment and is such as to place the person in a situation of social
disadvantage or exclusion’.
Moreover, the gu idance on the concept of ‘persons with d isabilities’ provided by Article 1
of the UNCRPD, ratified by Italy through Law 18/2009, is now part of the Italian legal
order.18 Owing to this Convention and i n particular to th e concept of ‘interaction with
various barriers’, a social model of disability has been formally introduced into national
law. This definition is in line with the CJEU’s judgment in the joined cases of HK Danmark
(Ring and Skouboe Werge)19 but with a wider material scope: in Ring and Skouboe Werge,
as well in the previous Chacón Navas case,20 the definition of disability concerns
‘professional life’, while both the definitions p rovided by the UNCRPD and Law 104/1992
16 A large number of judgments dealing with discrimination on grounds of nationality have been delivered
thanks to the active role played by members of an association of lawyers specialising in migration ASGI
who in some cases take part in proceedings. See the specialised database available at:
17 Framework Law on the care, social integration and rights of disabled persons (Legge-quadro per
l'assistenza, l'integrazione sociale e i diritti delle persone handicappate), 5 February 1992, No. 104,
available at:;104!vig.
18 No judgment has been delivered concerning the so-called ‘social model’ of disability as set out in Article 1 of
19 Judgment of 11 April 2013, HK Danmark, C-335/11 and C-337/11, EU:C:2013:222, paragraph 54.
20 Judgment of 11 July 2006, Chacón Navas, C-13/05, EU:C:2006:456.

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