Discrimination occurring where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put persons of one sex at a particular disadvantage compared with persons of the other sex, unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim, and the means for achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.

See also: direct discrimination

Additional notes and information

The concept focuses on the effect of a rule or a practice and takes into account everyday social realities.

Indirect discrimination occurs when a law, policy or programme does not appear to be discriminatory, but has a discriminatory effect when implemented. This can occur, for example, when women are disadvantaged compared to men with respect to the enjoyment of a particular opportunity or benefit due to pre-existing inequalities. Applying a gender-neutral law may leave the existing inequality in place, or exacerbate it.


European Commission (2010). EU Gender Equality Law: Update 2010. European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality.