Annual Report 2019: Significant increase in enquiries regarding racial discrimination

Year of issue 2020
Date 2020.06.09

Franke: Germany has to do more for equal treatment

The number of cases of discrimination reported to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency has increased again. This applies in particular to racial discrimination, as is indicated by the Annual Report 2019, which the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency presented in Berlin on Tuesday.

The number of requests for counselling relating to ethnicity or racial discrimination increased by about/almost 10 per cent to 1,176 cases or 33 per cent of all requests to the independent Anti-Discrimination Agency in 2019. In 2016, their share was only 25 per cent. In total, the Agency gave legal advice, requested statements or mediated amicable settlements in 3,580 cases last year. The overall number of requests for counselling has increased by 3.6 per cent in comparison to last year (2018: 3,455 cases)

Aside from discrimination based on ethnic origin, the enquiries are distributed among the other characteristics of discrimination protected by the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) as follows: Discrimination based on gender made up 29 per cent of complaints, followed by discrimination based on disability (26 per cent), age (12 per cent), religion (7 per cent), sexual identity (4 per cent) and belief (2 per cent). The largest share of the reported discrimination cases happened at work. 36 per cent of enquiries in 2019 related to discrimination at work or when looking for a job. Discrimination in everyday transactions such as looking for a flat, shopping, eating out or dealings with insurers and banks was the second-largest category (26 per cent). Moreover, numerous enquiries were received regarding areas of life where the General Equal Treatment Act is not applicable; this includes government action.

"Germany has a continuing problem with racial discrimination and does not offer sufficient support for legal enforcement to those concerned", said Bernhard Franke, Acting Head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency during the presentation of the report. "The feeling of being left alone with an injustice has serious long-term consequences that also endanger social cohesion. Discrimination demoralises."

For that reason, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency urges legislators at the level of the Federation and the Länder to considerably improve the legal situation and the support offers for persons concerned. The aim is firstly to reform the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) and secondly to take more consistent action against discrimination on the part of the Länder.

"A reform of the General Equal Treatment Act needs to be put on the agenda of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism urgently. For that purpose, longer deadlines to assert claims, a right to access to information and to legal remedies for the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and a right of action for associations are necessary. As long as we treat discrimination in everyday life as less important, we will not be able to successfully tackle hatred in its most extreme form", said Franke.

Protection against discrimination in government action must also be made clearer and given clear legal consequences. Here, the Länder in particular were called upon. Against this background, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency views the recently adopted Berlin Anti-Discrimination Act (LADG) – the first of its kind in the Federal Republic of Germany – as an important step. Among other things, it opens up avenues of redress for affected persons as well as ways to claim damages and compensation, including in cases of discrimination by police officers or in the education sector. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency also recommends establishing anti-discrimination authorities in all of the Länder. So far, this has only happened in 8 out of 16 Länder. Only this spring, the Council of Europe called on Germany to create a more coherent system to support those affected. "The Strengthening of legal protection from discrimination should not be postponed to better times, even and especially during the crisis", said Franke.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency has published annual reports on its activities since 2019. These complement the comprehensive report to the Bundestag, which the Agency submits to the parliament once during a legislative period, together with the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities and the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration as well as with other relevant commissioners.

The Annual Report is available here.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency is an independent contact point for persons affected by discriminatio. It was established in 2006 when the General Act on Equal Treatment entered into force. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency does public relations work and research on the topic of Discrimination and offers legal initial counselling for people who have been discriminated against on grounds of ethnic origin, religion, ideology, sexual identity, age, disability or gender.