Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency

2011.02.22 Religion or belief

The General Act on Equal Treatment (German abbreviation: AGG) establishes a connection between religion and belief by its phrase in Section 1. "The purpose of this Act is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation."

The common ground between religion and belief is that they are both characterised by a certainty in their statements about the entire world order as well as about the origin and purpose of human life which can be connected only with human beings.

In this context, religion is based on a transcendent reality reaching beyond the existence of human beings. Belief, however, is restricted to points of worldly reference.

The General Act on Equal Treatment provides protection against discrimination on grounds of belief within the sphere of labour law, while the protection concerning the field of religion covers both spheres, labour law and civil law.

In the case of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief it cannot always be differentiated whether the discrimination has occurred on grounds of religion or belief. Often, both grounds probably coincide. However, for the purpose of bringing actions, this differentiation may be important, since the General Act on Equal Treatment provides a more comprehensive legal protection for persons who are discriminated against on grounds of their ethnic origin than for cases of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief.

On certain conditions, unequal treatment in working life on grounds of religion or belief shall be admissible. For example, when employing new staff members, a Protestant day nursery may require that the child care worker has to belong to the Protestant denomination of Christianity.