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Germany: Annual discrimination report logs 22% rise in cases

June 25, 2024

A government agency combating discrimination in Germany logged a record number of complaints in 2023. Around 40% of them pertained to racism, while roughly a quarter targeted the disabled or chronically ill.

Ferda Ataman presenting the report at a Berlin press conference. June 25, 2024.
Ferda Ataman leads the government-funded agency tasked with combating discrimination and helping those affectedImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

The German government agency combating discrimination (the ADS) logged 10,772 complaints from members of the public in 2023, its highest annual figure and an increase of 22% on the previous year's figures. 

"Our case numbers show an alarming trend," the commissioner heading the agency, Ferda Ataman, said in Berlin on Tuesday while presenting the report. "More people than ever before are getting first-hand experience of the increasing societal polarization and radicalization. The situation is serious." 

Ataman said that "the foreigners-out-mood and contempt for human beings have become normal nowadays — not just while partying on Sylt or at public festivals," referring to two prominent recent cases that courted national and sometimes international media attention. 

What kinds of discrimination were most common? 

The largest share of the complaints, roughly 3,400 cases or 41% of the total, pertained to racist discrimination.

This was followed by just over 2,000 complaints of discrimination pertaining to disabilities or chronic illness. 

Discrimination based on sex or on gender identity was close behind, with just under 2,000 complaints for the year. The agency also logged an increase in complaints based on ageism, religion or worldview, and sexual orientation. 

Where did the cases take place?

More than a quarter of cases, 2,646, stemmed from the workplace — making this the most common source for complaints.

The next most common source was from daily life, for instance at a restaurant or a supermarket or on public transport, with over 1,500 complaints.

Another 1,146 complaints alleged discrimination from public and government agencies, while over 400 pertained to police or the justice system. 

Commissioner calls for reforms to laws promised in 2020

Ataman appealed to the government to "swiftly" finalize the reforms to Germany's general law on treating people equally (known as the AGG) that the coalition promised as it took office in 2020 but has yet to finalize. The rising caseload showed that these reforms were "overdue," she said. 

"The reform of the AGG must now have the highest priority," Ataman said. "It cannot be delayed any longer. I expect concerted action from the government against this daily hate and racism. The government owes this to those affected." 

The agency was founded in 2006 and started filing regular reports on this issue and others soon after. 

msh/rmt (dpa, KNA)

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