Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees that all people enjoy equal rights, “whatever the ethnic
group or tribe to which they belong” and that “color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow
any privilege”.15 However, the Constitution omits an explicit provision recognizing religion or
belief as a protected characteristic. Article 20 of the Constitution states that “All citizens of the
country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human,
political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria”. Additionally,
Article 23 of the Constitution stipulates that “the investigation of individuals’ beliefs is
forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.” 16
Many elements of Iran’s domestic legal framework discriminate between Shia Muslims, Muslim
and non-Muslim minorities. According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
candidates for the presidency, members of the Assembly of Experts, the Guardian Council, or the
Expediency Council all must follow the official religion of the State, excluding Muslim and nonMuslim minorities from holding high governmental positions.17 Further, Article 881 of the Civil
Code bars non-Muslims from inheriting property from Muslims. The Islamic Penal Code (IPC)
also prescribes different penalties depending on the religion of the perpetrator and/or the victim
of some crimes.
Such shortcomings in the legal framework set the structure for the institution of discriminatory
policies and practices in the Islamic Republic of Iran, extending to the employment sector.
Iranian law theoretically forbids the investigation of individual beliefs,18 but discrimination in
access to employment is institutionalized through the practice of gozinesh, a mandatory
screening process set forth in the Selection Law based on Religious and Ethical Standard of
1995.19 As described by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic
Republic of Iran, the process “involves investigations conducted by the Supreme Selection
Council and the Ministry of Intelligence into the acceptability of an applicant’s beliefs, previous
political opinions and affiliations” and is intended to ensure that applicants “adhere to and have
knowledge of Islam, follow the theory of Velayat-e-faqih (rule of an Islamic jurist under Shi’ite
Islam) and are loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran.”20 Not only is gozinesh in contravention of
Article 23 of the Constitution, it also bars minorities or anyone who are unable or unwilling to
accept these requirements from seeking employment in the public sector.21 Members of religious
15

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wpcontent/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf
16
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wpcontent/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf
17
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wpcontent/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf
18
Article 23 The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran
http://www.iranchamber.com/government/laws/constitution_ch03.php
19
Amnesty International, 2012, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/
20
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 18 July 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N19/222/62/PDF/N1922262.pdf?OpenElement
21
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 18 July 2019,
https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N19/222/62/PDF/N1922262.pdf?OpenElement

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