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Germany

Germany Passes Anti-Bias Law Broader Than Europe's

After years of trying, the German government has agreed on an anti-discrimination law that is broader than the rest of European legislation.

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Germany's law would make it illegal to deny a homosexual couple a hotel room, for example

Germany's ruling coalition agreed Tuesday on an antidiscrimination law that goes to extra lengths to protect the handicapped, the elderly and homosexuals in regards to daily business transactions such as booking travel and renting hotel rooms.

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries announced the deal late Tuesday. The talks had stalled for months amid debate over just who would be protected and in what instances.

Behinderte in Deutschland Rollstuhlfahrer fährt mit der Bahn

Protections were extended to people with handicaps, but further demands have been made

The conservative CDU had long been opposed to including sexual identity among the protection criteria. Zypries, a Social Democrat, said she hoped a law would take effect on Aug. 1.

"The long road led to a good compromise" Zypries told reporters in Berlin. "I'm very happy that we found a solution that conforms to the (Social Democrats') ideology."

One of the major aspects of the law would protect against discrimination in hiring based on gender, age, religion or disability. The European Union only requires member states to bar discrimination based on sex, ethnic origin or race.

Works cou n cils i n cluded

The text of the law, which has been approved in principle by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and by the Social Democrats in Germany's ruling grand coalition, will begin to be debated next week in the lower house of the parliament, the Bundestag, where the coalition has a comfortable majority.

The proposed law would also allow a works council to file a complaint on behalf of an employee who claims discrimination but does not want to make the complaint alone.

"Lesbians and gays have been waiting a long time for this law," the German Association of Homosexuals told AFP news service.

The government official representing the handicapped, Karin Evers-Meyer, said she has asked for an addition to the proposed law that would assure that the handicapped have access to hotels and restaurants.

Bildgalerie Minister Brigitte Zypries Justiz

Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries

The liberals may have won points on sexual identity, but they made concessions on the question of religious affiliation. Church-run organizations can continue to set their own criteria for selecting employees, including on the basis of religion.

Complia n ce with EU

Zypries said the law is meant to protect people from unfair practice in daily business. Creation of the law finally puts Germany in compliance with an EU directive. In the last election cycle, the SPD and Greens had devised a liberal code that was stopped by the CDU-dominated Bundesrat, Germany's upper house of parliament.

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