The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2020/21. This report documents the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2020, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty lnternational’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others. During 2020, the world was rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic and measures taken to tackle it impacted everyone, but also threw into stark relief, and sometimes aggravated, existing inequalities and patterns of abuse.

Denmark Human Rights 2020

A new law was passed in 2020 recognizing sex without consent as rape. Abuse of minorities increased during the national COVID-19 lockdown. A discriminatory law on social housing remained in place. The authorities failed to protect the rights of children born with variations in sex characteristics.


In June 2020, the Danish Institute for Human Rights published a survey which showed that members of minorities experienced increased verbal and physical abuse during the COVID-19 lockdown between March-June of 2020.


The 2018 Regulation L38 on social housing continued to be in force despite recommendations from 2019 by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to reform the law. The CESCR raised concerns about stigmatizing categories such as “ghettos” and “hard ghettos” for neighbourhoods comprising more than 50% of residents with “non-western backgrounds”. The police had the power to temporarily designate these neighbourhoods as “increased punishment zones” in which residents and visitors could face double the criminal penalties for certain offences, including vandalism, assault, public order offences, arson, threats and extortion. At the end of the year, the law had yet to be reformed.1

In May 2020 tenants of one of these neighbourhoods, the housing project Mjølnerparken in the capital, Copenhagen, filed a lawsuit for discrimination against the Ministry of Transport and Housing in the Eastern High Court. In October 2020, UN experts called on the government to suspend the sale of apartment houses in the area until courts determined whether laws permitting the sale violated residents’ human rights, including the high risk of forced eviction in violation of their right to adequate housing.

Violence against women and girls

In September 2020, the government and coalition parties put forward a cross-party agreement to introduce consent-based rape legislation. Parliament passed the proposed bill into law on 17 December 2020.2

In March 2020 the national hotline “Live without violence” saw a doubling of requests for safe spaces after the COVID-19 lockdown. In April 2020, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior responded by creating 55 emergency shelter places.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people

Despite specific recommendations from the CESCR in 2019, the authorities failed to protect the rights of children with variations in sex characteristics. Infants and children continued to be at risk of non-emergency, invasive and irreversible genital surgery or hormone treatment.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In January 2020, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture called on the government to take steps to improve the conditions at Ellebæk, a detention centre where migrants, asylum-seekers and rejected asylum-seekers are held based on Denmark’s immigration laws. At the end of 2020, no substantial improvements had been made.

Corporate accountability

In January 2020, the government committed to respond to the CESCR 2019 recommendation that Denmark adopt a legal framework requiring business entities to exercise human rights due diligence in their operations. The CESCR also recommended that businesses be held liable for human rights violations and that victims be enabled to seek remedies. By year’s end, the government had yet to take steps to introduce the required legal framework.

  1. Denmark: Human rights must be ensured for all (EUR 18/3229/2020)
  2. Denmark: First reading of “sex without consent is rape” bill brings historic moment for women’s rights closer (Press release, 20 November)


Denmark Newsroom

March 4, 2019 • Report

Give us respect and justice! Overcoming barriers to justice for women rape survivors in Denmark

Denmark’s reputation for gender equality masks a society with one of Europe’s highest levels of rape, where flawed legislation and widespread harmful myths and gender stereotypes have resulted in endemic impunity for rapists, Amnesty International …

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 17, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Denmark 2013

KINGDOM OF DENMARK Head of state Queen Margrethe II Head of government Helle Thorning-Schmidt A European Parliament report recommended that Denmark conduct an independent investigation into its involvement in the …

March 26, 2011 • Report

Europe: Open Secret: Mounting Evidence of Europe’s Complicity in Rendition and Secret Detention

Europe: Open Secret: Mounting Evidence of Europe’s Complicity in Rendition and Secret Detention Available in PDF only.

March 19, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Denmark 2010

Head of state Queen Margrethe II Head of government Lars Løkke Rasmussen (replaced Anders Fogh Rasmussen in April) Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes Population 5.5 million Life expectancy 78.2 …

August 1, 2018 • Press Release

Denmark: Face veil ban a discriminatory violation of women’s rights

As a new law banning the wearing of face coverings in public comes into force in Denmark, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director Fotis Filippou said: “All women should be free …

November 19, 2017 • Press Release

Amnesty reveals alarming impact of online abuse against women

New research by Amnesty International has revealed the alarming impact that abuse and harassment on social media are having on women, with women around the world reporting stress, anxiety, or panic attacks as a result of these harmful online experiences.

March 10, 2016 • Press Release

Ai Weiwei, Snowden, Pussy Riot take place of online ads to protest censorship

Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.