On 27 September 2016, our German colleagues at the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) celebrated their tenth anniversary, together with the ten years of the German General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) in Berlin.
Ten years after the entry into force of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG), the Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas, and the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, have recognized the law as a significant contribution against discrimination in Germany.
"In a society that is becoming increasingly diverse, equal treatment strengthens cohesion and peace," said Minister Heiko Maas in his speech. "The AGG has helped to make Germany cosmopolitan, modern and liberal. The past ten years have shown that the AGG is effective, without any of the horror visions that some critics had before it came into effect." Read the whole speech here (in German).
Commissioner Jourová stated her high regard for the work of the German equality body: “The German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) and the General Act on Equal Treatment have both turned ten. Side by side, they have developed a vital bond. It is the exact same kind of bond we seek to nurture. We depend on agencies such as FADA to have our laws put in practice and promoted across the European Union. Not only do you help individual victims stand for their rights, you also endeavour to promote a culture of equality and non-discrimination in Germany."
Commissioner Jourová’s speech very much welcomed the tenth anniversary of this visionary legislation, but reminded the audience about the work that still remains as regards equal treatment for all in Europe: "With this piece of legislation, Germany was a front-runner in terms of anti-discrimination legislation. It anticipated what the European Commission would later suggest in order to complete the protection against discrimination everywhere in the Union. I am referring to the proposal of the Directive of 2008 on the equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (so-called Horizontal Directive). We need this Directive to close the current gap in EU anti-discrimination law. And we need German leadership to make it happen. For, although the General Equal Treatment Act is quite comprehensive, broader protection from discrimination in the whole European Union will ensure that German citizens living in or travelling in another Member State enjoy equal protection, abroad and at home."
"It was a milestone that the legislature had decided to bring a law against discrimination in this way" , said the Head of the Anti-Discrimination Agency, Christine Lüders. The adoption of the AGG had "initiated a cultural change", added Lüders: "discrimination at work has not disappeared, but it is clearly outlawed and is increasingly openly discussed."
Lüders suggested that the law should nevertheless be adjusted in order to improve the protection of victims. The basis for this is the evaluation of the law that has recently been introduced the FADA. "We must do everything to strengthen the rights of discrimination victims. Because I still see shortcomings" , Lüders said. Specifically it was suggested to extend the period in which victims have to bring discrimination to court, as well as the right of action for associations.
Equinet Executive Director Anne Gaspard also attended the celebrations and was pleased to meet the Commissioner and Ms. Lüders on that occasion. She was very pleased to hear Commissioner Jourová referring to the work of Equinet in her speech: "Let me mention that the Commission welcomes Germany’s plans to tackle pay discrimination and the persisting gender pay gap. I would like to specifically thank FADA and Equinet for their joint and continuous support in addressing this issue. Those plans are in line with the Commission’s effort and with 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation."