Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency presents annual report: Discrimination enquiries increase by 15 percent in 2018 / Racial discrimination most prevalent 2019.04.02

In 2018, the number of counselling enquiries to the independent Federal Anti-Discrimination agency increased by 15 percent compared to 2017. This emerges from the Annual Report of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, which Bernhard Franke, acting head of the agency, presented on Tuesday in Berlin. In 2018, the counselling centre of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency received 3,455 enquiries relating to at least one discrimination characteristic protected by the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), i.e. age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion and/or beliefs. The number of enquiries increased by about 15 percent compared to 2017. In 2018, most enquiries to the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency related to the characteristics of ethnic origin/racial attribution (31%) and gender (29%), followed by disability (26%), age (14%), religion (7%), sexual identity (5%) and belief system (2%).

"The volume of and trend in counselling cases show that discrimination is an everyday problem", said Franke. "In addition, it concerns us that we observe a radicalisation particularly of racist resentment in large sections of the society. For several years now, the statistics report an increase in racist incidents; a trend that also seems to reflect in the types of discrimination described by the AGG.” In addition, people affected by everyday racism are more ready nowadays to articulate their experiences and to claim their rights", Franke said with reference to the hashtag debates of the past and of the current year (#MeTwo, #FromHere, etc.).

The sphere of life most frequently mentioned in the context of discrimination based on any characteristic is the labour market. In 2018, more than one in three counselling enquiries (36 percent) related to discrimination in working life. These include, for instance, discrimination against pregnant women in an employment relationship, discrimination against persons with an ascribed migrant background when seeking employment or through a pay gap. Particularly striking is the rise in complaints about sexual harassment. The second most prevalent reason for people to turn to the Anti-Discrimination Agency was having been subjected to discrimination during everyday activities (27 percent in total). This includes discrimination on the housing market as well as a lack of accessibility for people with disabilities or discriminatory admission policies at clubs.

The Anti-Discrimination Agency is committed to improving data collection on discrimination in Germany. Upon its request, questions on the frequency of discrimination experiences were included for the first time within the Innovation Sample of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The representative data collected in this context can also be found in the Annual Report. According to these data, 16 percent of those surveyed experienced discrimination within the previous 24 months. The proportion rises to 23 percent for persons with a migrant background and as much as 26 percent for persons with disabilities.

The Anti-Discrimination Agency welcomes the Federal Government’s willingness to assess the Agency’s proposals for reforming the General Equal Treatment Act. "We see it as vital to promote the rights of those affected", Franke said, mentioning as an example the introduction of the right of collective action for anti-discrimination associations. He believes many affected persons are overburdened by the situation as is today, so a major proportion of discrimination experiences is not recorded nor are important legal and societal changes initiated. "On the anniversary of our Basic Law, we still clearly see that equal treatment and freedom from discrimination are not only legitimate concerns of minorities, but rather form a vital basis for fair and just coexistence, which must be defended time and time again", Franke explained.

The 2018 report is the first Annual Report published by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. The report serves as an important complement to the comprehensive report to the Bundestag, submitted to the Members of Parliament in every legislative period by the Anti-Discrimination Agency in cooperation with the Commissioners for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities, for Migration, Integration and Refugees as well as other competent commissioners. The Annual Report provides a concise overview of the Anti-Discrimination Agency’s activities, current developments and counselling figures.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS for its initials in German) was established when the General Equal Treatment Act (German abbreviation: AGG) entered into force in August 2006. This Act aims to prevent or eliminate any discrimination on grounds of racism or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.