Fourth Joint Report to the German Bundestag 2021.11.03

Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and Federal Government Commissioners in favour of expanding counselling services against discrimination

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities and the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration have jointly called for strengthening commitment against discrimination. The results of their Fourth Joint Report to the German Bundestag thus underline the urgent need to stand up for persons having experienced discrimination.

The three institutions have issued three joint recommendations: for one, they are calling for a nationwide expansion of public and private anti-discrimination bodies that is financially sustainable in the long term, and which includes the establishment of Land anti-discrimination agencies in all federal Länder. Furthermore, they recommend alternative dispute settlement procedures for discrimination cases, for instance using arbitration boards in particular in key fields such as the housing market. Thirdly, according to those recommendations a greater visibility of discrimination topics in large-scale surveys such as the German Socio-Economic Panel SOEP is required. The report also recommends establishing gender equality monitoring within the federal administration.

“The number of people seeking counselling is constantly increasing,” explained the Acting Head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Bernhard Franke, in Berlin on Wednesday. This was particularly evident with the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, whose counselling figures had increased by 78 per cent in 2020 alone. “We need to do everything possible in order to support people even better: through a nationwide close-knit network of contact points, new low-threshold possibilities to clear up discrimination cases and an expansion of research in order to find ways to combat discrimination in an even more targeted way.”

Franke also called upon the incoming Federal Government to improve the enforcement of the rights of individuals concerned: The reform of the General Act on Equal Treatment as requested by us and by numerous organisations for years must not be on hold any longer. We need to strengthen people who want to take legal action against discrimination, for instance by extending the deadlines for the assertion of claims and a right allowing associations to take legal action.” It also had to be ensured that a new Head would be swiftly found for the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in the new legislative term, for instance through direct election by the German Bundestag

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency recorded 16,415 counselling requests during the reporting period from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2020 which related to one of the protected grounds under the General Act on Equal Treatment (age, disability, gender, ethnic origin, religion/belief, sexual identity). 3,757 requests referred to other grounds (social status, health, marital status, residence status and others). In each case one third of the requests referred to discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin / racism (33 per cent) and/or disability (32 per cent). 24 per cent related to discrimination on grounds of gender. Age made up 12 per cent, religion/belief 7 per cent and sexual identity 4 per cent. Most requests (31 per cent) related to working life, 24 per cent to discrimination as regards access to goods and services, 11 per cent to discrimination in public authorities and administrations.

6,413 enquiries (complaints, requests for help and requests for information) were received by the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities. The public enquiry service of the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration took 12,929 enquiries during the reporting period. Overall, all three institutions registered an increase in the number of requests. Apart from the counselling requests at the institutions mentioned, information on the counselling demand at public and civil-society anti-discrimination bodies were taken into account for the report and relevant case law was analysed. The report findings also take account of studies on behalf of the Anti-Discrimination Agency, first and foremost on the possibility of enforcement of anti-discrimination legislation in the field of civil law.

The legal basis of the report is section 27 subsection 4 of the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG). Thus, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and the Commissioners of the Federal Government and of the German Bundestag within its remit jointly submit reports to the German Bundestag on discrimination on the grounds mentioned under section 1 of the General Act on Equal Treatment every four years and issue recommendations on the elimination and prevention of discrimination.

You will find more information on the Fourth Joint Report Diskriminierung in Deutschland – Erfahrungen, Risiken und Fallkonstellationenhere (only German version available).

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.