Intersecting housing discrimination : A socio-legal study on the limits of Swedish anti-discrimination law

University essay from Umeå universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: This qualitative socio-legal study critically examined the protection against housing discrimination found in chapter 2 § 12 of the Swedish Discrimination Act (SFS 2008:567), in light of United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union housing and non-discrimination (human rights) standards. As an applied socio-legal study it aimed to be critical towards the limits of law in context. By applying an intersectional approach as the theoretical framework for the study, it aimed to identify legal weaknesses from an intersectional point of view. The study made use of a descriptive doctrinal analysis method and a critical text analysis method. The material for analysis consisted of civil housing discrimination law: legislation, preparatory works and case law. The case law, anonymized for this study, consisted of three district court judgments and three appeal court judgments processed during the years 2007-2016. The first research question asked what, if any, forms of intersectional discrimination the housing discrimination law face and comprise. The descriptive doctrinal analysis revealed that all cases shared the discrimination ground ‘ethnicity’ and discrimination form ‘direct discrimination’. The critical text analysis resulted in three themes illustrating intersectional discriminating facing the law: “aggressive men” (the intersection of sex and ethnicity), “resourceless women” (the intersection of sex, socio-economic class and ethnicity) and “unsettled strangers” (the intersection of socio-economic class and ethnicity). The second research question asked what, if any, the limits of law are from an intersectional point of view. By discussing the three themes in relation to the legal landscape and previous research it was possible to identify several limits of law relating to intersectionality, such as the exhaustive list of discrimination grounds, absent discrimination grounds and an absence of intersectional awareness. The study concluded that Swedish housing discrimination law rely on formal equality, which renders intersectional discrimination invisible and the power of housing human rights disputable.

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