German watchdog reports 'alarming' number of discrimination complaints

The Local (news@thelocal.com)
The Local ([email protected]) • 16 Aug, 2022 Updated Tue 16 Aug 2022 13:55 CEST
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Germany's Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency Head Ferda Ataman, presents the agency's 2021 report at a Berlin press conference on 16 August 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Germany’s federal Anti-Discrimination Agency received 5,617 complaints in 2021 - the second-highest number since its founding in 2006.

Instances of discrimination, particularly those involving racism, remain at historically high levels in Germany.

That’s according to a report released on Tuesday by Germany’s federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, which presented its figures from 2021.

The Antidiskriminierungsstelle (ADS), which was founded in 2006, provides counselling and advice to complainants, while conducting research and reporting on discrimination in Germany to the federal parliament.

The report released on Tuesday reveals that 2021 saw the second-highest annual number of complaints in the agency's history. 2020 saw the highest number of complaints, with 6,383 instances reported.

“The number is alarming,” said agency head Ferda Ataman. 

Ataman brought up several examples during her press conference. “A wheelchair user reported to us that they weren’t allowed to board a bus, even though the bus was wheelchair accessible and there were enough places on it,” Ataman said. “A young woman reported to us that she was asked in a job interview when she wanted to become pregnant, even though asking that question isn’t allowed. A lesbian couple reported they were turned down for a home.”

Racism complaints made up the single largest share of cases - accounting for 37 percent of all complaints to ADS in 2021.

READ ALSO: What Germans really think about the country’s racism problem

Complaints related to disability and chronic illness accounted for 32 percent of cases, followed by sex (20 percent), age (10 percent), religion (6 percent), sexual orientation (4 percent) and worldview (3 percent).

As for where the incidents occurred, a third involved complaints from people who were denied access to private services, such as shops, supermarkets, or restaurants. 28 percent related to discrimination people faced in the workplace.

More than a third of cases, however, occurred in places where the government’s anti-discrimination law only partially applies. These include within the police, in court, in education, or in open public spaces.

“Unfortunately, discrimination is still part of everyday life in Germany,” said Ataman.

Among other measures, Ataman called for a reform of German anti-discrimination law to cover more areas and give people longer than eight weeks to report an incident. She also called for more offices where people could file complaints.

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The Local ([email protected]) 2022/08/16 13:55

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