and nationality (which is also covered under the GETA).42 In cases concerning hate speech
and insults against a group (see Introduction) the Supreme Court accepted that the ground
‘race’ covers references to nation ality and immigration status ( e.g. ‘Surinamese’,
‘Moroccans’ and ‘asylum seekers’).43 In line with this case law, politician Geert Wilders was
found guilty in 2016 of incitement to racial discrimination against ‘Moroccans’.44 The appeal
against the verdict is still pending.
In g eneral, both Dutch courts and the NIHR tend to interpret the d efinition of ‘race’ as
referring to particular characteristics (e.g. colour, national origin or culture) rather than as
a category resulting from processes of racialisation.45
b) Religion or belief
Religion is also not defined in the Constitution, in the GETA or an ywhere else in the equal
treatment legislation. In the Netherlands the term ‘belief’ is not used. In the Explanatory
Memorandum to the EC Implementation Act, the Government has made it clear that it
wishes to continue u sing the term ‘philosophy of life’ (levensovertuiging), rather than to
the Government, there is no material difference between these two terms. 46 ‘Religion or
belief' is interpreted in a broad sense. In cases that come before th e NIHR and the courts
(including cases concerning the freedom of religion), the Institute and the judges us e a
wide definition of religion and belief. The only restriction to the scope of the concept is that
it should exceed a mere personal convicti on or expression. 47 On the other hand, it is not
necessary that all believers of a certain religion adhere to a certain conviction (e.g. the
wearing of headscar ves by women). 48 Fin ally, it is also established in case law that th e
right not to be discrimin ated against on the ground of religion incorporates both the right
to have religious beliefs or to adhere to a certain philosophy of lif e and the right t o act in
accordance with that religion or belief. 49 Since political opinion is also protected, no sharp
line between belief and political opinion needs to be drawn. The interpretation of all of
these terms is strongly inspired by the case law of th e European Court of Human Rights
(ECtHR) and other international institutions (e.g. the UN Human Rights Committe e).
Dutch equality law does not define disability, as the Government has deemed it
unnecessary and undesirable to do so.50 However, unlike the Employment Equality
Directive, the DDA expressly me ntions ‘chronic disease’ as a ground alongside ‘disability’.
With r egard to the definition, some guid elines can be derived from the travaux
préparatoires of the DDA and the cases of the then ETC (now the NIHR). Criteria mentioned
during the preparation of the Law were, amongst others, the long duration of the disability
42 See, for example, ETC 2011-97 and 2011-98, especially the note to both cases by A. Böcker and S.
Dursum-Aksel, to be found in Foster, C. J. et al. (eds.) (2012), Oordelenbundel 2011 (‘NIHR Opinions
2011’). Nijmegen, Wolf Legal Publishers, pp. 453-464.
43 E.g. Supreme Court 16 April 1996, ECLI:NL:PHR:1996:AD2525; Supreme Court 26 June 2012,
44 District Court of The Hague 9 December 2016 (Wilders case) ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2016:15014 (in Dutch)
https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2016:15014. Summary in English:
46 Since the government does not seem to see a difference in meaning, we have translated levensovertuiging
as ‘belief’ in this report. The NIHR, in the English translation of the GETA on its website, also translates
‘levensovertuiging’ as ‘belief’.
47 See, for example, ETC 2007-207.
48 See, for example, ETC 2008-12.
49 See, for example, ETC 1997-46, 2004-112 and 2004-148, as well as the Explanatory Memorandum to the
GETA, Tweede Kamer, 1990-1991, 22 014, no. 3, p. 39-40. And, similarly, Memorandum in Response to the
GETA, 1990-1991, 22 014, no. 5, p. 39-40 (Memorie van Antwoord bij de Algemene Wet Gelijke
50 Explanatory Memorandum to the DDA, Tweede Kamer, 2001-2002, 28 169, no. 3, p. 9.