Germany's anti-discrimination agency sees record rise in complaints

Germany's anti-discrimination agency sees record rise in complaints

Germany's anti-discrimination agency sees record rise in complaints

Since last year, Germany’s anti-discrimination agency has recorded a dramatic rise in calls for help dealing with racism, discrimination and social marginalisation. Both coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter movement are considered drivers for this trend. 

Huge surge in requests for legal advice on discrimination

In 2020, the number of requests for legal advice submitted to the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS) rose faster than ever before - by 78,3 percent, according to the ADS’s annual report, which was presented in Berlin on Tuesday. 

In total, the ADS provided legal advice, obtained statements or brokered agreements in 6.383 cases last year - up from 3.850 the year before. Requests for advice on discrimination “on the basis of ethnic origin, or on racist grounds” rose particularly sharply, to 2.101 requests in total, compared to 1.176 in 2019. 

“We have never seen such a drastic increase in requests for advice,” said Bernhard Franke, acting head of the ADS, adding that the trend is indicative of an increased social sensitivity surrounding the topic, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the racially-motivated terrorist shooting spree in Hanau in February 2020.  

Coronavirus pandemic as a driver for racism?

However, the dramatic increase in cases can also be linked to the coronavirus pandemic: in 2020, the ADS counted 1.904 enquiries that were directly related to the pandemic. Complaints included racist attacks against people perceived to be Asian, and chronically ill and infirm people who were being prevented from working from home. 

But by far the majority of enquiries - 1.496 cases - were connected to the so-called mask requirement, and primarily involved people who are medically unable to wear masks facing disadvantages or discrimination.

However, the pandemic alone does not fully explain the noticeable increase in enquiries over the past year. Requests for advice that were not related to the pandemic also rose by 25 percent compared to 2019. 

In addition to pandemic-related cases, there was a significant increase in racial discrimination, with reported cases rising by 78 percent in 2020, to 2.101. Overall, they made up a third of all enquiries in 2020. 42 percent of cases involved people who are disabled or chronically ill, while 17 percent involved people who felt disadvantaged due to their gender. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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