A war raged for weeks over the appointment of Ferda Ataman to the office of federal anti-discrimination officer – which will also gain new independence with her. She herself was accused of discrimination and playing down ethnic crime. Nevertheless, she got more votes in the Bundestag at the beginning of July than the coalition – from which she was nominated. Now the much-hostile has presented the annual report of her small authority for the first time – the fourth so far.
Of course, not only the person at the head of the anti-discrimination authority (ADS) and the redefinition of the office, which was filled by the Bundestag for the first time, are new. For the first time since the ADS was created more than 15 years ago – implementing a requirement of the European Union – its tasks could also change significantly: In the coalition agreement, the traffic light promised itself that gaps in protection would be “closed, legal protection improved and the scope expanded ” – the ban on discrimination does not yet apply to government agencies, schools, offices and the police, where discrimination often occurs with drastic consequences.
The current annual report mentions other white spots: rights that the General Equal Treatment Act created at the time are often not enforceable. So far, it has been up to those affected to defend themselves against discrimination, they themselves have to go to court – which can cost money and other resources. According to the report, this “does not do justice to the social consequences of discrimination (…).
Protection against discrimination in Germany is “weak compared to other European countries”. Among other things, the ADS proposes a right to take legal action as a group, which would give professional associations the opportunity to sue on behalf of those affected and to clarify cases of fundamental importance once and for all. She also wants more research and data collection to make discrimination visible at all, and more advice and information on how victims of discrimination can defend themselves – either through the ADS itself advising or through the appropriate equipment of expert associations and NGOs.
The report proves that there is a need for this: last year, 5,617 inquiries were received in the ADS advisory service. This means that the number remains “overall at a high level” even after the previous year, which was shaped by Corona. In 2020, requests for advice had climbed to a record level, with 6,383 cases at the time meaning an increase of 78 percent compared to 2019.
Most of the increase was due to consequences of the pandemic. This effect has weakened, but has not disappeared. In 2020, a third of the inquiries were related to a pandemic, in 2021 it was just under a fifth (5,617 cases). With a share of 37 percent, racial discrimination, i.e. that which is called “because of ethnic characteristics” in the law, is the most frequently mentioned reason, followed by disability (32 percent), gender (20), age (10), religion (6) , sexual identity (4) and worldview (3). Last year, probably due to the pandemic, the characteristic “disability and chronic diseases” pushed ahead of all other reasons. The General Equal Treatment Act does not protect against all forms of discrimination, but defines precisely these seven characteristics.