Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency

The horizontal approach

The term 'horizontal approach' refers to the grounds for discrimination which are mentioned in the General Act on Equal Treatment and means that the various grounds for potential discrimination merit protection to an equal extent. Thus the creation of a hierarchy among the grounds for discrimination and/or among the different groups of affected individuals is avoided. This horizontal approach is based on human rights.

This approach takes into consideration that every human being has various characteristics - for example age and sex. Therefore, the different grounds for discrimination may overlap or develop their own, quite specific forms. In those cases it is a matter of so-called multiple discrimination. This term is used with a view to providing legal protection and combating discrimination.

However, the fact that the focus is on overlapping areas does not mean that the specific characteristics attributed to forms and experiences of discrimination against different groups of affected individuals are no longer clearly perceived. Therefore, the approach has to be considered as a supplement and not as a substitute for the necessary target-group-oriented anti-discrimination work.