Religion / Beliefs
In 2020, five % of consultation requests to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency concerned the characteristic of religion and two percent of enquiries concerned the belief system.
When it comes to discrimination on account of religion, the visibility of one’s religious affiliation plays an important role. In this context, the type of discrimination experienced varies depending on faith. While Jews frequently report hostility or insults in everyday situations, Muslim women who wear headscarves experience discrimination particularly when seeking a job.
All recognised religious affiliations as well as people who do not belong to any denomination are, in general, protected from discrimination. Under certain circumstances, however, church employers can impose special requirements regarding their employees as part of what is known in Germany as the ‘church privilege’. Time and again this topic comes up in requests to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, for instance, when someone who does not belong to any denomination is denied a job in a Christian hospital. This privilege was defined in greater detail through several decisions by the European Court of Justice (German: Europäischer GerichtshofEuGH) over the past years, according to which loyalty to the Church ethos cannot be required across the board for all activities.
Moreover, the General Equal Treatment Act (German abbreviation: AGG) also prohibits discrimination on grounds of a specific belief system. According to German court decisions, however, this only refers to holistic attitudes that shape a person’s overall world view – this does not, for instance, include party affiliations or opinions about individual societal issues. In addition, the AGG’s protection of beliefs is restricted to working life.
The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency offers various information and practical support materials on this topic.