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Further grounds for discrimination

The General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG) offers protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, ethnic origin, race, gender, religion or belief or sexual orientation But people also experience discrimination on other grounds.

Among the counselling requests received by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency from mid-2017 to mid-2020, in roughly 20 per cent of all cases affected persons felt discriminated against on grounds other than those covered by the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG). In this context, it is often a matter of discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin (e.g. on the grounds of nationality or residence status), or unequal treatment on the grounds of social status, state of health, civil status or also on the grounds of physical appearance.

Looking at international Conventions on Human Rights, it becomes obvious that a restriction to the six grounds of discrimination stated in the General Act on Equal Treatment does not need to be definite. Thus, in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the discrimination ground “social origin” (Art. 21, CFR) is also explicitly mentioned. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) relates the prohibition of discrimination, for instance, also to political and other ideologies, assets, birth or other status (Section 14, ECHR). Many European Member States have enshrined in law a far-reaching selection of discrimination grounds. Thus, social status, for instance, is a protected ground in some countries (e.g. Croatia, Spain, Switzerland), just like civil status and/or the family situation (Belgium, France, Estonia) or political views (e.g. in Denmark, Bulgaria, Italy, Norway).

 An expansion of the grounds for protection in Section 1 AGG is principally possible for Germany as well. This is shown by the “Legal Expertise on the need to specify and expand on the grounds of discrimination mentioned in the General Act on Equal Treatment”. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency has, time and again, argued in favour of an expansion of the protection against discrimination.

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