Own rights unknown

Four years after the anti-discrimination law came into force, only one in three citizens knows about it. Likewise each third citizen felt however already once for reasons disadvantaged or discriminated against. This discrepancy is now to be resolved.

This is the result of a representative study by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, the results of which were published on Friday. "So far, too few people know about their right to protection against discrimination," said the head of the Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS), Christine Luders (non-party). That must change. "Protection against discrimination is a human right." Since its inception, some 10.000 requests for advice received by ADS. Most often, he said, it's about discrimination based on disability, age and gender. But there has also been a need for advice on discrimination based on ethnic origin, religion or sexual identity.

Demand for contact points close to home The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), as the anti-discrimination law that had been negotiated for years was finally called, was passed on 18. The solution came into force in August 2006 in the face of opposition from business associations and parts of the CDU and CSU. Discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, gender, sexual identity, disability, age and religion is now prohibited in professional and business life. The independent anti-discrimination agency, based in the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, is to provide advice to victims of discrimination, inform those affected and the public, and campaign against discrimination. Luders renewed her call for contact points close to home. In the coming years, it wants to support counseling institutions to further qualify themselves and network with each other. This is how a nationwide counseling network is to be established. "That's what we spend most of our budget on," Luders explained. Critics' fears that the AGG could trigger a flood of lawsuits have not come true, they say. The Antidiskriminierungsstelle asked all courts at state and federal level about their experiences with the AGG. 63 courts responded and confirmed that there had been no wave of lawsuits since the AGG came into force. Two to three percent of all labor disputes are AGG cases, he says. ADS will soon publish a book with 50 exemplary cases of discrimination in Germany.

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