What is equal treatment?

People differ from each other in appearance, interests, activities, choices and abilities, but they are all equally human. The right to equal treatment is a fundamental right of every person. It is an independent right as well as a right applicable to the implementation of all other human rights, because they must also apply equally to everyone.

In the broadest sense, the concept of equality denotes a relationship between two or more people or groups of people in any area of life or situation. The concept of equality does not refer to making everyone the same or equally redistributing material resources. Equality implies the right to be different.

The purpose of equality between people is to have the same rights, obligations, responsibilities and opportunities. Everyone must have equal opportunities for a good education, to work in their speciality and to receive services depending on their efforts.

The principle of equal treatment means that people are not discriminated against based on characteristics attributed to them. Discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person based on some characteristic. Less favourable treatment may have already occurred or is occurring at this very moment, or it is known that a person may be treated less favourably in the future.

There are various areas in which discrimination and unequal treatment may occur. It may be related to work (getting a job, setting recruitment criteria, promotion, cancellation of an employment contract, remuneration etc), education (access to education, vocational education, continuing education), organisational activities (memberships in associations, granting benefits) or even services (social welfare, health care and social security services), including public services.

The article was written based on the website of the Estonian Human Rights Centre www.humanrights.ee.

The Estonian Human Rights Centre is an independent non-governmental human rights organisation whose mission is to create an Estonia that respects the human rights of each person.

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