More than 65 associations and NGOs from Germany and Europe have co-signed a joint statement, initiated by our member equality body the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) and Equinet, calling on the German government to stop blocking the Equal Treatment Directive of the European Union (the so-called Horizontal Directive).
The proposed Directive is intended to provide protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, sexual orientation, religion and disability outside the field of employment. It includes specific provisions to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that Germany has already ratified. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as the European Parliament and 27 of the 28 EU Member States basically support the project. Only the German federal government refuses in principle.
"It is incomprehensible that Germany is single-handedly blocking better protection against discrimination across Europe", said Christine Lüders, Head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (FADA) on Thursday in Berlin. "The federal government thereby accepts that people with disabilities in many European countries are denied access to premises, or that hoteliers may refuse to rent rooms to gays or lesbians" for example.
The federal government rejects the Directive in principle, although the need for implementation in Germany due to the existing Equal Treatment Act since 2006 (AGG) would be comparatively low. However, in many of the other 27 EU Member States, including for German citizens living abroad, the Directive would lead to significant legal improvements. Since unanimity is required for the adoption of the Directive, the German refusal de facto means that Europe cannot implement strong protection against discrimination, similar to the protection that already exists in Germany. "Many of those who are discriminated against and treated unfairly therefore remain defenseless ", Lüders said.
The first signatories of the Joint Declaration, including Equinet and our German member FADA, call on the federal government to change its attitude to the Equal Treatment Directive and pave the way for substantive negotiations. At the same time, they ask the federal government to enter into dialogue with them about the meaning of the Directive.
Signatories of the appeal include large charities, human rights groups, German non-governmental organizations from all the AGG Protected Areas, as well as European umbrella organizations representing several thousand organizations from across the continent. Other organisations are invited to support the statement as well.