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In Germany, new rules against discrimination entered into force in 2006 in the General Equal Treatment Act. So antidiscrimination law and antidiscrimination policy are often the subject of public discussion. But what does “antidiscrimination” mean?
Discrimination means literally “differentiation”. But in legal and political terms only that kind of differentiation is meant that excludes, humiliates and disadvantages other people. So “antidiscrimination” is something aimed at countering such inequalities.
Antidiscrimination is closely linked with Gender Mainstreaming. GM is a strategy with the goal of gender equality. In line with the rulings of the Federal Constitutional Court [German link], this is understood to mean equal participation by both sexes and realization of real freedom of choice in how to live and the removal of discrimination. Discrimination denotes the infliction of disadvantages on the basis of, for example, categories such as gender, “race” or ethnic origin, religion or other secular belief, age, disability or sexual orientation, i.e. of aspects mentioned in Art. 3 of the German Constitution, the Basic Law (GG).
Discrimination is differentiated as direct or indirect disadvantage. The General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) [German link] which entered into force on August 18th 2006, supplies a definition for both forms of discrimination:
  • direct disadvantage is deemed to exist if a person suffers less favourable treatment than another person in a comparable situation on account of one of the above categories.
  • indirect disadvantage is deemed to exist if apparently neutral provisions of law, procedures or criteria could disadvantage people on account of one of the above categories in any particular way as opposed to other people. However, such indirect discrimination can be objectively justified by a lawful aim, to the extent that the means to achieve that goal are appropriate and necessary.
Antidiscrimination law (such as the AGG) does not relate just to the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex (as was the case with the previous Sec. 611a of the German Civil Code (BGB) [German link]. Rather, the AGG makes it possible for courts to deal with multiple forms of discrimination.

The aim of antidiscrimination policy is to enforce the rights of all persons to equal treatment and to ensure that no unfair disadvantages are inherent in difference and diversity. Protection against discrimination can include both the prohibition of (direct and indirect) disadvantage and the targeted promotion of disadvantaged persons. This is where discussions about quota regulations and “affirmative action” come in. Full protection against discrimination will only be achieved, however, when institutions whose structures and rules, but also individual attitudes, prejudices and behavior, are addressed by antidiscrimination policy, which is what happens under the aegis of the strategy Gender Mainstreaming.

Here you can find more information on the development of antidiscrimination policy in the USA.

And here you can find additional information on antidiscrimination policy in the European Union.

erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07