This research project was conducted during the year 2017 in the Northern institute of environmental and minority law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The aim was to provide academic research regarding these two minority groups within the Indigenous Sámi people, and fill the knowledge gap regarding their human rights situation in Finland as well as among the Sámi communities. A particular focus of the project was multiple discrimination faced by these two minority groups.
The research report Human Rights and Multiple Discrimination of Minorities within Minorities: Sámi persons with disabilities and sexual and gender minorities (2018) was published in three different languages; in Finnish, in Northern Sámi and in English. The research team valued it highly important that the report is provided to Sámi also in one of their mother tongue.
Even though these two minority groups are different in many regards, the challenges and multiple discrimination they face in their everyday lives stems often from the same roots. The lack or shortage of adequate and fact based knowledge regarding these minorities is one of the reasons behind negative attitudes and discrimination. Almost non-existing culturally sensitive social and health care services in different Sámi languages are at the core of structural discrimination that Sámi people with disabilities and Sámi identifying as sexual and gender minorities face. Resources, for instance, to develop different kinds of services, to do a more extensive research or to establish a Nordic association, are not adequately allocated for these purposes. Furthermore, there are also absences in legislation regarding these minority groups in Finland, and their internationally recognized human rights are not adequately implemented through national legislation. For both minority groups, granting special services in Sámi languages would be the most acute issue in implementing their fundamental human rights.
Laura Olsén and Leena Heinämäki