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Discrimination

Discrimination means that people are categorized and disadvantaged on the basis of individual characteristics. The characteristics can be actual characteristics of people or attributions. An attribution is when something is attributed to a person from the outside that may not be true.

Discrimination is not permitted and violates the principles of a democratic society.

The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) offers legal protection against discrimination in various situations on the basis of

  • of racism,
  • of the gender,
  • sexual identity,
  • a disability or chronic illness,
  • of age,
  • religion or belief.

People are often discriminated against on the basis of several categories. Then we speak of multiple discrimination.

Discrimination always stems from different positions of power. This is because power is unequally distributed in our society. Participation is not equally possible for all people. Discrimination affects people who are in a disadvantaged position in a certain power relationship.

Discrimination can occur in all areas of life: at work, in the neighborhood, at school, on the bus, when shopping, at the cinema,… It can look very different. Harassment and exclusion are just a few examples. Discrimination often happens unintentionally – but even then it can violate a person’s dignity.

Discrimination is often practiced by individuals. There is also structural discrimination – for example, when regulations in an institution systematically disadvantage a certain group of people. It can also be structural discrimination if people with different conditions are treated equally. For example, if accessibility is not ensured, this is a form of discrimination, as some people are excluded.

Discrimination is usually painful for those affected. If you have experienced discrimination yourself, you don’t have to be alone!

We support you. Together we can fight back against injustice.

Various experiences of discrimination

… includes the discrimination of people due to their ethnic origin or affiliation, their skin color, their language or their residence status. The externally ascribed origin or affiliation does not always correspond to reality.

Racism has a long history, including colonialism. There are different forms of racism, each with its own history. For example, there is racism against black people, Sintizze and Romnja, anti-Muslim, anti-Asian and anti-Slavic racism.

“My neighbor insults and bullies me. He says that only Germans should live in this house. The property management doesn’t do anything about it.”

“When white children tease my black child at school, the teacher always blames my child. My child is then punished, the white children are not.”

“I applied for a vacant apartment. When I mentioned my Arabic name, the atmosphere became very icy and the landlord suddenly said that the apartment was no longer available.”

… often affects women, for example in the form of harassment, unequal treatment in the workplace and much more. We also refer to this as sexism.

Trans, inter- and non-binary people are also discriminated against because of their gender. Many people wrongly assume that there are only two genders and that these are immutable. In this way of thinking, there is no room for trans, inter- and non-binary people. We speak of queerophobia, among other things, when they and their rights are not respected.

“My colleague at work keeps asking me out, even though I’ve already said no. He makes lewd comments and my boss doesn’t say anything about it.”

“A security guard at the shopping center threatened to call the police if I used the women’s toilets as a trans* woman.”

Discrimination on the basis of sexual identity

… describes the discrimination of people because of their personal preference when choosing a partner.

For example, bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual and asexual people are affected. This form of discrimination is also referred to as queerophobia.

“The café owner didn’t want to serve me and my same-sex partner.”

“At nursery, all the children were supposed to make presents for Father’s Day. Our child doesn’t have a father and wanted to make something for his two mothers. But the teacher said it wasn’t normal and that he should just not take part at all.”

… is the discrimination of people who do not conform to the norm of non-disability. In our society, there are certain norms that dictate how people should be and what they should be able to do. Discrimination against people because they do not have certain abilities is also known as ableism. For example, people are excluded from social participation due to barriers.

Those affected by this form of discrimination include people with physical impairments or chronic illnesses, people with mental illnesses, neurodivergent people, people with learning difficulties or mental conditions that deviate from the norm.

“I wasn’t allowed into the restaurant because of my assistance dog.”

“My teacher didn’t want to give me any extra time for the exam, even though I have a diagnosis of dyslexia and simply need more time.”

… can affect both young and older people – in different ways.

This includes, for example, excluding people of a certain age group across the board. Another example is to devalue people because they are young or old.

“A bus company’s job advertisement stated that they were only looking for drivers under the age of 45.That’s why I couldn’t even apply there.”

“Although I have a high degree and am qualified, I was rejected for a management position in my company. In a personal interview, the management said that a ‘chick’ like me simply wasn’t ready for the job yet.”

Discrimination on the basis of religion or belief

… often concerns people who belong to a religious minority in a particular context. In Germany, Christianity is usually given special consideration. This can be seen, for example, in public holidays. People who belong to other religions are often disadvantaged.

In Germany, for example, Muslim people often experience discrimination based on their religion. This discrimination can also affect people who are only considered to be Muslim. Racism often plays a role in this.

Jews also often experience discrimination in Germany. Due to anti-Semitism, this happens regardless of whether and how they practise their religion.

“I shouldn’t get the allotment because I wouldn’t eat pork sausage with the other members at the barbecue.”

“I didn’t get a job, even though I was very well qualified for it. When I asked why, the HR manager said that I wouldn’t be able to work properly during Ramadan and the company couldn’t afford it.”

… describes the discrimination of Jewish women:Jews. The term also describes the hatred of Jews and the rejection of everything Jewish. Anti-Semitism has a long history and is often expressed indirectly and in code.

“When a waitress in the café saw my Star of David necklace, she ignored me until I left without ordering.”

“My colleagues often post videos with anti-Semitic conspiracy narratives in our team chat. Our boss doesn’t stop them. As a Jew, this makes me feel unsafe at work.”

… describes a discrimination of people based on several categories.

Many people are in a disadvantaged position in several power relations. They therefore experience discrimination based on different categories – for example as a black woman or as a homosexual person with a disability. The various forms of discrimination work together. This is often referred to as intersectionality. We also have an intersectional attitude. This means that it is important for us to look at the different categories together. Because people are not one-dimensional. They always have many different positions and affiliations at the same time. Discrimination can therefore affect them in different ways.

“I am Muslim and work as a doctor in a clinic. The HR manager advised me to come to work without my headscarf, as many people in our area ‘don’t like foreigners’. Some patients won’t let me treat them or ask me when the ‘right’ doctor will finally come.”

“Because of my disability, I need certain aids for everyday life. But my application to the health insurance company was rejected. When I called them, an employee told me that I should be happy that I was allowed to live in Germany at all and not ask for all these ‘extra sausages’.”

Limits of protection against discrimination

In Germany, there is legal protection against discrimination based on the categories described in the areas of labor law and civil law. It is therefore possible to take action against this on the basis of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG).

Other categories of discrimination are not yet covered by the AGG. Not all areas of life are covered either. The AGG does not apply to government action, for example in public authorities or schools. As the Brandenburg Anti-Discrimination Advisory Service, we are committed to closing this protection gap. We are calling for a state anti-discrimination law that also protects against discrimination by state institutions.

We will be happy to advise you on the possibilities of taking action against discrimination in the current legal situation. In addition to the AGG, there are also other laws that can protect people from discrimination.

Discrimination on the basis of age

… describes the discrimination of people because of their personal preference when choosing a partner.

For example, bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual and asexual people are affected. This form of discrimination is also referred to as queerophobia.

“A bus company’s job advertisement stated that they were only looking for drivers under the age of 45. That’s why I couldn’t even apply there.”

“Although I have a high degree and am qualified, I was rejected for a management position in my company. In a personal interview, the management said that a ‘chick’ like me was simply not yet ready for the job. “