Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism 2020.09.02

Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency urges strengthening advice centres against racist discrimination

Ahead of today’s (Wednesday's) hearing of the Cabinet Committee for the fight against racism and right-wing extremism, the independent Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency urged for clear strengthening of consultation services against racist discrimination across Germany. The State has the intrinsic responsibility towards those affected to make this happen. It must ensure that all persons can live in Germany without fear of discrimination or racist hostility, and participate in society as equals,” said Bernhard Franke, acting head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in Berlin on Wednesday.  Franke referenced in this context the surge in requests for consultation against discrimination. The Anti-Discrimination Agency alone had received more requests by mid-August than in the entire year before. Non-governmental bodies reported a similar trend.

Therefore, the Anti-Discrimination Agency sees the need to, first, stabilise the human resources of the Federation’s consultation services and, second, set up a Federation-Länder programme for the expansion and long-term financing of non-governmental advice centres. In a key issues paper presented at today’s (Wednesday's) meeting of the Coalition Committee, the Anti-Discrimination Agency also advocated strengthening legal protection against discrimination. 

We are seeing that the discrimination ban is perceived as weak, because people feel they have been left to fend for themselves when it comes to enforcing it. I wish to cite only two examples: Deadlines for claims to be asserted must be extended as these are far too tight and by the time people report an instance of discrimination to us, it is often already too late to take action. In addition, providing qualified associations and, where relevant, the Anti-Discrimination Agency with separate rights to sue, as in place in many neighbouring countries, may lessen the impression that the General Equal Treatment Act is a toothless tiger,” said Franke.

To be successful, a strategy would have to reach deep into mainstream society and not confine itself to the undoubtedly necessary action against extremism and radical fringes, Franke added. The mainstay of such a strategy is a strong protection against discrimination that can be felt in everyday life.  At the same time, discrimination has to be addressed by preventative action in order to avoid social division, for instance through nationwide anti-discrimination campaigns. The data pool on discrimination would have to be improved as well. In combination with measures taken by security agencies, the promotion of diversity and a broad-based approach to nurturing democracy, protection against discrimination was also instrumental in fighting racism and right-wing extremism. 

The key issues paper that translates as “Against racism, for equal treatment: proposals by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency to strengthen the protection against discrimination in Germany (Gegen Rassismus, für Gleichbehandlung: Vorschläge der Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes zur Stärkung des Schutzes vor Diskriminierung in Deutschland) can be accessed (in German) here.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency is an independent contact point for persons affected by discriminatio. It was established in 2006 when the General Act on Equal Treatment entered into force. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency does public relations work and research on the topic of Discrimination and offers legal initial counselling for people who have been discriminated against on grounds of ethnic origin, religion, ideology, sexual identity, age, disability or gender.