2015-04-29

Discrimination handling in Germany (2)

Section 2: Legal basis of discrimination handling

The legal basis comes from the ``Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany [1]. This law serves as the German constitution. The English version of the law is provided by Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz and I refer to this version.

The first article of the basic law (Article 1) is ``Human dignity - Human rights - Legally binding force of basic rights'':

  • Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.
  • The German people therefore acknowledge inviolable and inalienable human rights as the basis of every community, of peace and of justice in the world.
  • The following basic rights shall bind the legislature, the executive and the judiciary as directly applicable law.
Under the German law, people cannot violate human dignity. On the other hand, the basic law has the freedom of expression in the Article 5: ``Freedom of expression, arts and sciences'':
  • Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
  • These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honour.
  • Arts and sciences, research and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.
Thus, the freedom of speech is limited in that it cannot infringe upon by the human dignity. This means hate-speech is a crime since it violate people's human dignity in Germany.

The German criminal code [2] defines incitement to hatred (Volksverhetzung) at Section 130, this prohibits hate-speech. In Section 86a, the code defines ``use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations (Verwenden von Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen),'' this concerns the use of symbols like Nazi insignia.

The law ``Allgemeines Gleichstellungsgesetz [3]'' concerns any kind of discrimination including nationality, age, religion, gender, income, disability, and so forth.

Discrimination in most cases is prosecuted as a felony. Although there are some gray zone (e.g., an art project), but the each case will be handled in the court.

References

  1. Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, ``Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, English translation version'', http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_gg/englisch_gg.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  2. Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, ``German criminal code, English translation version'', http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stgb/englisch_stgb.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))
  3. Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz, Allgemeines Gleichstellungsgesetz,  http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/agg/BJNR189710006.html, (Online; accessed 2015-4-2(Thu))

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