Multiple discrimination in EU anti-discrimination law: Towards redressing complex inequality?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In the past years, discussions about equality law in the EU have witnessed the emergence of growing concerns about ‘intersectionality’. In cases of multiple and intersectional discrimination, victims experience differential treatment or disadvantage based on several grounds, for instance gender and race. This type of complex and multi-layered discrimination poses specific challenges to EU anti-discrimination law, which systematically tends to reduce discrimination to one single protected category. Consequently, multiple and intersectional discrimination often falls into the cracks of equality protection, raising the question of whether EU anti-discrimination law is an adequate instrument to combat intersectional discrimination. Despite rising awareness about the necessity to address this issue, neither EU legislation nor jurisprudence has provided an adequate answer so far. Rather, the warning against ‘multiple discrimination’ contained in the preambles of the Race Equality Directive 2000/43/EC (14) and the Framework Directive 2000/78/EC (3) falls short of bringing conceptual clarity. However, despite the Court’s apparent lack of understanding of the issue of intersectionality—culminating in Parris in 2016 – this chapter argues that a careful reading of the few cases of discrimination invoking multiple grounds brought to the CJEU reveals potential paths towards recognizing intersectional discrimination. This chapter reviews these pathways to recognition and demonstrates how they could contribute to a better protection of equality for victims of multiple and intersectional discrimination.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEU Anti-Discrimination Law Beyond Gender
EditorsUladzislau Belavusau, Kristin Henrard
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherHart Publishing
ISBN (Print)9781509915019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018


  • Intersectionality
  • multiple discrimination
  • Equality law
  • Discrimination Law
  • EU Law


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