December 3, 2012
A newly written constitution will soon pass before Iceland’s senate, who will vote to determine whether or not to replace its constitution with a new version created in large part by suggestions and input from the public.
Among the proposals for the new constitution is a push by Icelanders to include body weight among the provisions listed for protected classes from discrimination, which would make it illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their body weight (link text in Icelandic).
Iceland has previously paved paths for human rights with respect to gender equality and gay rights for its citizens.
"If Iceland accepts this proposal into their new constitution, they will be the first country in the world to prohibit weight discrimination," according to Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives. "This groundbreaking legislation could reduce inequities and improve the quality of life for many Icelanders who are vulnerable to unfair treatment because of their weight."
"Our research shows that weight discrimination has increased by 66% in the past decade in the U.S., and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination," Puhl continues. "Legislation to prohibit weight discrimination has been discussed here in the United States, as well as in countries like Canada and Italy, but unfortunately, little has been done to increase protections for persons subjected to this form of discrimination. These laws are badly needed. Iceland could be the leader in these efforts."