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Whether you are shopping, making a banking transaction or going to a restaurant – discrimination-free access is by no means a matter of course.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency is often contacted by people who are discriminated against on grounds of a disability, their origin, age or religion. Older people and people with disabilities often complain about facing discrimination when taking out invalidity insurance policies, private accident or health insurance or car insurance. When going to clubs or discos, dark-skinned men are often refused entry. Some gyms fear losing other customers by admitting Muslim women wearing a headscarf and thus reject them.

In addition, a lack of accessibility in cafés, doctor’s practices, cinemas, supermarkets, libraries, stations or in public transport continues to be a key problem. In a given situation, affected people feel that they are unable to access certain social areas in very concrete terms.

However, different prices for services and products based on a person’s gender, as shown by the Study on “Gender-Related Price Differences in Germany” by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, may also be perceived as discrimination.

The General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG) offers protection from discrimination on grounds of age, disability, ethnic origin or on racist grounds, on grounds of religion or sexual identity in daily affairs. This protection is limited to so-called bulk business, which is typically carried out without regard of person in a large number of cases. As regards racist discrimination or differences in treatment on grounds of ethnic origin, however, discrimination is generally prohibited in everyday transactions, regardless of whether or not they constitute bulk business. When taking out private-law insurance, differences in treatment on grounds of age, disability, religion or sexual orientation are permissible if statistical data result in a deviating risk assessment. This is mostly the case as regards age or disability. Costs arising from pregnancy and maternity may not lead to payment of different benefits.

Taking legal action against discrimination in everyday transactions, such as refusing someone entry to a club, is often time-consuming, costly and risky for the affected individual. In addition, it is often hard to prove discrimination in everyday transactions because they are often carried out between two persons only. A study commissioned by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency is currently examining how legal enforcement is this area can be improved.

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