The aims of the PROGRESS 2009 project was threefold:

Firstly, it sought to contribute to the developing consensus that Icelandic anti-discrimination legislation is lacking.

Secondly, the project sought to map social attitudes to the five different groups: the elderly, minority religions, people of immigrant origins, disabled persons and homosexual people.

The third aspect of the project aimed to promote diversity, and to tackle discrimination.


Project highlights and results



Seminar on anti-discrimination legislation

The targe audience were, in particular, NGOs and stakeholders working on anti-discrimination issues, academia, law-makers, public authorities working in the field and municipalities.

Discussions were held with key actors where they contributed to the formulation of new equality legislation, among other things, relating to the transposition of the EU Equality Directives.

Study on Attitudes


Participants in the study were aged 18 and up, chosen at random, but the results of the studies were aimed at the general public, from age 12 and up, stakeholders, public authorities and the media.

The aim of the study was to map current prejudices and attitudes in Icelandic society towards the different groups: elderly, minority religions, people of immigrant origin, disabled persons and homosexual people. The majority of questions are comparable to the EUROBAROMETER. The results were disseminated to relevant stakeholders and used as basis for the awareness raising campaign and discussion in the seminars.

Disability study

The results of the project were aimed at stakeholders and public authorities charged with special education. Participants were school children, 12-15 years old as well as facilitators and supervisors.

The objective was to map the attitudes of school children towards their disabled classmates. The study should form the basis for further action to promote an inclusive school system in Iceland.

Reaching out

Here, homosexual people of immigrant origin, their families and immigrant communities in Iceland were the target audience.

The objective of the project was to improve information about queer rights to the immigrant population in Iceland.

Micro-film festival

The aim of the micro-film festival was to increase awareness of the different forms discrimination, and promote diversity and understanding of the situation of those perceived as different.

Poster campaign

The campaign was aimed at the general public from age 12 and up. The main event organised under the campaign was aimed at children and youth as participants and implementers, on the one hand, and the general public, on the others as spectators and participants

The poster campaign was organised to increase awareness amongst the public against anti-discrimination. Media attention in connection with the

publication of the poster was substantial, bolstering discussions on a society of equal opportunities for all. 

Media study


The target audience here was the general public, stakeholders and journalists. The purpose was to analyse the Icelandic media’s portrayal of the different groups: elderly, minority religions, people of immigrant origin, women, disabled persons and homosexual people, with the aim of influencing journalists to embrace diversity in their work.

Discrimination terminology seminars

Here, civil society and public authorities active in non-discrimination work were the target audience as well as the general public.

An open discussion was held on the topic of stereotyping and which terms are to be used in discussion about equality. The aim was to foster constructive dialogue and cooperation, and break stereotypes.

Situation testing

The target audience were decision makers, legislators, law enforcement agencies and staff of service industry as well as hiring agencies.

Situation testing actions were completed in order to verify anecdotal evidence regarding discriminatory access to public places and discriminatory hiring practices


Overview of results

Concerted efforts are needed to combat discrimination in all spheres of life on all grounds especially as relates to people of immigrant origin, and to this end it is important to ensure accessible Icelandic teaching programmes to combat social exclusion and promote equality. A comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, with a “reversed burden of proof” is called for. General anti-discrimination training and training on provisions of the General Penal Code is needed for people working in the hospitality industry.

Opinion makers should take steps to increase coverage of social issues and visibility of minorities in their media.

It could be useful to make the PROGRESS programme more accessible for smaller NGOs.

It is important that research be carried out on the access of minority groups to the labour market, and services in general. Further, more comprehensive situation testing should be carried out and research forming the foundations for a new law on anti-discrimination is called for.  

Icelandic Human Rights Centre

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