Discriminatory incidents stabilise in Luxembourg

While the proportion of reported victims fell slightly since 2015, there remain areas of concern Shutterstock

While the proportion of reported victims fell slightly since 2015, there remain areas of concern Shutterstock

While the proportion of reported victims fell slightly since the last time the 'Observatoire des discriminations' poll was conducted in 2015, there remain areas of concern.

Of the 1,014 residents polled by TNS Ilres for Luxembourg's centre for equal treatment (CET) in September 2020, 46 said they were discriminated against based on their nationality, 28 because of their sex or gender, 22 as a result of their linguistic skills, 22 because of physical appearance and 19 based on age.

In just under a third of cases, the victim sought support from friends and family, with only 33 calling the perpetrator out and one person lodging a complaint. 27% took no action.

While the number of self-reported cases of discrimination rose, the proportion of respondents who said they witnessed an incident remained unchanged at 27%. The most frequently witnessed type of discrimination concerned nationality (59), followed by ethnicity (54) and sex or gender (37).

Gap between incidents & reporting

The results suggest there is a gap between incidents and reporting, since the CET’s annual reports have shown for the last few years that the most commonly reported discrimination in Luxembourg was against differently-abled people.

The survey results also present a more diluted snapshot compared to the damning revelations of the 2019 “Being Black in the EU” report. Compiled by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the report placed Luxembourg in second place for perceived racist harassment, and fourth place for racist violence by police.

“Following the FRA's study “Being black in Europe” and all the media coverage around the theme of racism, we could perhaps have expected an increase,” CET director Nathalie Morgenthaler told Delano, adding: “We assume that this difference is due to the fact that the sample is much larger than the one for the FRA study (where only the people concerned were interviewed) and that people may have relativised, compared to the media, facts that are reported around the world (physical violence, murders...). Nevertheless, it must be stressed that any discrimination is one too many, regardless of whether it is included in a statistic or not.”


Earlier in 2020, Luxembourg was found to have fully complied with recommendations from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. Among other things, it recently adopted a law on the name changes and gender recognition for transgender people. And the 2020 Migration Integration Policy Index report scored the country highly for securing protection from discrimination based on nationality. However, no body has been designated as the competent contact point for victims and witnesses. “On every occasion, the CET draws political attention to this omission, but nothing has been undertaken in the meantime,” Morgenthaler said.

Awareness raising

Morgenthaler said the results confirmed its work was moving in the right direction but said more needs to be done, particularly in the area of awareness raising surrounding rights and duties. It has submitted a wish list and recommendations to parliament for actions in 2021, among them giving the CET the power to pursue cases to court. “Here, a legislative change will be necessary,” said Morgenthaler.