Discrimination in the Netherlands: it’s not just nationality

Discrimination in the Netherlands

Both DutchReview and Dutch news sites have been reporting a lot on discrimination in the Netherlands. These are usually centered around discrimination regarding the nationality of the individual. However, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (College voor de Rechten van de Mens) has received a record number of complaints last year. The complaints are showing that there is evidence of discrimination across the board. And that’s really not good.

Increase of disabled people reporting discrimination

Today RTL reports that 810 disabled people went to the institute last year to complain about discrimination. This is in comparison to 579 in 2016 and 342 in 2015. So, it’s clear to see that it’s rising considerably. They even reported situations such as a zoo refusing a guide dog to enter and a bus driver not helping a disabled person get onto the bus. In the end 46 complaints were ruled and 20 concluded that discrimination took place. It’s important to remember that it’s hard in some cases to prove that discrimination occurred. As a result, many complaints never go anywhere. Some are also resolved without needing to take it any further, so they don’t make the statistics.

Are we going in the wrong direction?

The number of reports overall are a good enough indication that people feel that they are not treated equally to other peers.

What about discrimination in general?

Out of all discrimination cases, a massive 4,259 were reported. Surprisingly (or not) 35% of all of these complaints were complaints from pregnant women. Some of these complaints involved lack of help and train complaints. I’ve been seeing endless complaints on Facebook groups that they have been made to stand up in the train, despite being heavily pregnant, which isn’t safe. Some are even resulting in wearing badges to tell everyone they are pregnant (as if the belly isn’t giving it away to commuters). That’s something I’ve definitely noticed personally, despite the reports suggesting similar.

discrimination in the netherlands
Will you give up your seat?

Racial discrimination actually dropped from 26% to 16%, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that racial discrimination is becoming less prominent. A increase of complaints in general, and with the high increase of people reporting discrimination from something other than racial matters, means that the overall percentage decreases. This isn’t exactly great either, as it just shows that more and more people feel discriminated against, across the board.

Wider implications

There’s nothing good about reports showing that discrimination is appearing to be more prominent in Dutch society. We’ve discussed discrimination extensively in the past, and we’re hoping it’s something that shouldn’t be prominent enough to discuss any more.

Hopefully the increase of reports is not just because discrimination is getting worse, but it’s because people feel empowered to come forward and report it. Even so, it shouldn’t really be happening in the first place.

We’ll see how the stats change over the next year, but it’s sad news to see today all the same.

How do you feel about this and discrimination in the Netherlands in general? Let us know in the comments! 

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. Hello,

    Nice article, I am an expat living in the Netherlands and I also experience a lot of discrimination in various sectors within the Netherlands, workplace was the first place where I was discriminated against, now I cannot tell the reasoning behind being discriminated i.e race/religion, but for sure I was being and still am being discriminated against. The worse part I am not sure who can help me with this, as the discrimination is done in a stealth way. This is terrible considering Netherlands is suppose to be a liberal progressive country.

  2. Dutch society is discriminating. Be it HR, recruitment agencies, management, colleagues- if you are not Dutch, your life is miserable. They will not allow you to grow in terms of career, position or in any other manner. Basically Dutch are quite coward by nature. They dont like competition (though they portray otherwise). Its a cocoon society. Just look at linkedin and profile of people working at high positions. Just graduates with internship experiences are moved up to senior positions while non-Dutch experienced and qualified people are working under them. Its sad but this is THE reality of Dutch society. IT IS STILL A VILLAGE WITH RURAL MENTALITY- MY CASTE- MY PEOPLE- MY RELIGION

    • I agree with you as I have been in this too. Really sad. I thought it was a libaral society, that was the attraction to come to school in the Netherlands.

    • Don’t let people do that, You tell them what is right and what is wrong. Do this to and extent where you will not get in trouble and or hurt. In that case you go on to court. Without the proper proof people can e racist and sadly get away. There is not much we can do now days but stand up for what is right, and turn them in for hate crime. Hope this stops have a nice life.

  3. My name is Patrick Ford. I am located in zaandam on business with my partner, also here on business. We we’re recently denied entry to a bar (not intoxicated) for no other reason then the fact that we spoke English to bouncers. We were mean to meet friends inside. Two bouncers who did not disclose that they worked for the establishment refused our entry because “we were not from here” and given no other reason. We waited outside civilly and within minutes I was punched in the face 4 times and shoved back and thrown on the ground while people (local people screamed for our safety and mistreatment)Shortly after I was arrested and harresased by police. I hav been traveling for work consecutively for 3 years. Many countries I visit are far less advanced than the Netherlands and yet I have never been treated more poorly by the police (polite) than I have been in this country. I am truly disgusted with the actions of the employees of Cafe Noire in Zaandam and the local authorities. I will be investigating further.

  4. Hi i was working in Nederland many years since 2007 but last time when i was working there i meet real discrimination in 20015/2016 young people was screaming “go away from here””go back home””mense verkooper- thats means that im snitch seeling people”even small childreen in age 8-10 years was when they saw me they was screaming”ahhhhh jude is coming” and runed away on bicycles,Im from Poland not from Israel and im polish not jewish but somebody i think took my photo from facebook and put on public side in NL and described me as jewish,its hard too proof all those things but its truth,i dont want work in NL anymore because of that,im too recognizable for people in NL and i dont feel good with this,even on big concert called “FLYING DUTCH” where was tousends of people i become problems because of my nationality,NL is bad country for outsiders thay will use u and cheat you by work agency”uitzenbiuro”,i have bad memmories from NL and begging in 2007 was beautifull i must say ,i get respect for my hard work but many years later suddenly everything has changed.

  5. I am British.
    I came to the Nederlands over 20 years ago for work. Leaving my family behind.
    I have not seen for 12 years.
    There was no escape from bi-polar and fatigue/ depression/ fibromyalgia/ pain/ sleep apnea/ mood changes/ concentration / focus problems/.
    75 failed employment later I am 80% 100% written off from working.

    The health team treating me for my issues.
    1) Go back to your own country and work you will feel better.( Psychiatrist)

    2) Your only here for money from the Nederlands.( health support worker)

    3) Benefits support worker ooowww your another 1 that comes with his hand open for money.

    4) Be greatful you can live in the Nederlands and be sick and get money for doing nothing.

    So many professionals have discriminated me for my disability telling me I need a kick in my Arse.

    I wish I never came to this awful country
    that discriminate everyone for disability.

  6. Forgot to mention.
    When I was able to work a few hours for a company with people with disabilities.
    My boss never called me by name.
    Englishman or islandwooner.
    I was often told to go back to my own country.
    My confidence what I once had has been destroyed.
    I feel guilty for my disabilities health issues.
    This country has no compassion for anyone.


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