What is prejudice?

  • Judging someone in advance.
  • Basing your judgements and views on stereotypes.
  • Judging based on origin, class, nationality, religion.
  • Prejudice is often based on a certain ignorance, fear, and insecurity.
  • Separating “us” from “them”.
  • Prejudice can lead to abuse and harassment.

Everyone in Iceland has a constitutionally-protected right to not be discriminated against.


The word “stereotypes” refers to generalizations about all individuals that belong to a certain group.

Stereotypes can be both positive and negative, sometimes at the same time. They are simplified and often prejudiced view of a group, often based on hearsay, news coverage, and representation in the media.


The Icelandic word for microaggressions (or everyday prejudice) is öráreitni. Microaggressions consist of hidden or subtle discrimination or prejudice that is most often directed towards marginalized groups.

These are incidents that in and of themselves seem minor, but when people experience them repeatedly, even multiple times a day, the impact and consequences become significantly greater.

Microaggressions can appear in words, tone of voice, as well as rejection or reception and can often be difficult to explain or pinpoint.

Examples of prejudice that surfaces as microaggressions:

  • Staring.
  • Calling someone names.
  • Speaking down to people.
  • Indignant expressions.
  • Using words like “gay” or “homo” about something negative.
  • Assuming that a child’s parents are a man and a woman.
  • Speaking to an adult as if they were a child.
  • Pretending not to understand someone.
  • Showing distrust or suspicion.
  • Showing impatience.
  • Speaking about a person to others, instead of to them.

A study from 2013 shows that people of foreign origin in Iceland experience such incidents more often than people of Icelandic origin

Marginalized groups

Marginalization occurs when a person or group of people has a harder time doing certain things in society or has more difficulty accessing basic services or other opportunities.


Residents of Iceland who were born abroad, regardless of their citizenship, are called immigrants. That concept also encompasses refugees and people who have a foreign parent or parents, as well as migrant workers – workers who move between places where work is offered.

In 2022, 14,6% of residents in Iceland were foreign citizens.

In 2022, 20,5% of Reykjavík residents were foreign citizens.


Refugee is an umbrella term that encompasses individuals who have been granted a recognized status as refugees according to international agreements.

The United Nations Refugee Convention and its protocol define and ensure the rights of refugees.

The Foreign Nationals Act nr. 80/2016 defines a refugee as “a foreign national who is outside their home country or a stateless person outside the country where they had regular residence.”

Quota refugees

Quota refugees are individuals who have received an invitation to come to Iceland from the Icelandic government.

In recent years, the Icelandic government has invited quota refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, for example.

Applicants for international protection (asylum seekers)

Applicants for international protection are individuals who come to Iceland on their own initiative.

The matter of applicants for international protection is in the hands of the Directorate of Immigration, which processes the applications.

The Dublin Regulation: If an applicant has previously applied for protection in another country, Iceland is not required to process the case and can reject the application on that basis.

LGBTQ+ people

LGBTQ+ or “queer” are umbrella terms for all people who are not heterosexual or do not conform to what are considered traditional genders. That includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, pansexual people, trans people, intersex people, asexual people, and others.

The law protects the rights of individuals to bodily autonomy. That means that everyone has the complete right to control their own body and that everyone’s right to life, safety, freedom, and human dignity is respected.