Multidimensional Discrimination

2010

- Factsheet on the research project -

The results of the legal opinion

  • The grounds for discrimination that are included in the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) - “race“, ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation - reflect realities of life. These grounds for discrimination determine social opportunities, cause individuals to be stereotyped and assessed. They are categorisations.
  • These categorisations are not isolated, but are intersectionally intertwined, interdependent and interlinked. Discrimination does not occur one-dimensionally, i.e. it is not based on only one ground, but exists in complex forms. Therefore, multidimensional discrimination is rather the rule. A one-dimensional view stereotypes, distorts and simplifies the actual problems on hand.
  • Which legal consequences result from multidimensional discrimination has largely been unknown. The AGG does not define multidimensional discrimination.
  • The analysis of selected court decisions shows that courts tend not to recognise multidimensional discrimination or do not appropriately take it into account. 

Results of the empirical opinion

  • While age, origin, gender and sexual orientation are mutually reinforcing dimensions, disability usually dominates life experiences and so “overrides” them. Frequently, the dimensions “age and disability“ as well as “precarious living conditions and ethnic origin” co-occurred.
  • The family is reported as the setting where the majority of the frequently long-lasting adverse experiences took place. At the same time, the family is cited as the most important resource in coping with discrimination.
  • Individuals with a migrant background as well as gay and lesbian persons experience discrimination mainly in school. They also experience discrimination when looking for a training place or internship, an apartment or a job as well as when dealing with authorities. These experiences are frequently reported by persons with a migrant background - often compounded by discrimination on grounds of gender. 
  • Violence and assaults are mainly motivated by people’s origin, gender and sexual orientation.
  • It is alarming that people seeking advice do not always meet counselling centre staff who are appropriately qualified, i.e. who have a methodological training, reflect on their own attitudes and prejudices or factor in differences.
  • Only in rare instances do advice-seeking persons take legal action. The underlying reasons are fear of further stigmatisation, doubts over the success of court action and self-blame for what happened.