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Welcome to the Online Handbook Active against Discrimination!

In which ways can civil society organisations and associations support individuals in court on the basis of the German Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz)? On what grounds can associations file law-suits in terms of German Handicapped- Equality Laws? Under which conditions is it advisable to submit a complaint on the international level? And how are the German Court System and the International Complaint System organized? Explanations to these and many more questions can be found in the Online Handbook "Active against Discrimination".

The Handbook

The Handbook is written in German and provides a wide range of information on the protection from discrimination and the rights of associations in these terms. National and international non-discrimination rights and ways of participation for associations in court and complaint procedures are presented, together with concrete practical advice and practice-orientated know-how.

Handbook "Aktiv gegen Diskriminierung" (in German)

List of contents

In addition the website provides an overview of the rights of associations (in eight different languages), the central legal documents and a wide range of links relating to the subject.

Members of associations and employees of counselling-organisations can get registered for a members-only forum on this site. The forum offers exchange with others working in the same field and provides for discussions on recent and current developments in non-discrimination issues, for example in terms of political or legal alterations. Users can create an own profile, look up other members and connect with them. Furthermore they can access educational material of past seminars and workshops.

The Online Handbook follows a horizontal approach. This means that it equally involves the protection from racist discrimination as well as from discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual identity and orientation, age, religion and belief or disability.

Target Groups

The Online Handbook is addressed at representatives and members of associations and counselling organisations, legal practitioners and others interested, without or with knowledge of non-discrimination and legal means for associations.


The Online Handbook was created in the context of the project "Non-discrimination: Competencies for Associations". The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs funded the project. It was established at the German Institute for Human Rights coordinated by Nina Althoff and Sera Choi from January 2009 until December 2011. The goal of the project was to strengthen associations in enforcing non-discrimination rights and thereby promoting a culture of non-discrimination and human rights in Germany. Even though the German General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz) from 2006 provides a partly strong legal ruling, concerning the rights of affected individuals against discrimination, there are still substantial deficits in exercising these rights. Particularly, discriminated persons often have difficulties in enforcing an effective legal protection against discrimination and in applying their right to non-discrimination in and out of court. Only an effective protection from discrimination can ensure that human rights are not only reduced to being the privileges of an “advantaged” group. It provides for the same opportunities to utilize human rights and is indispensable to overcome the exclusion of marginalized groups and in realizing their participation and inclusion. The knowledge of and conscience for non-discrimination rights, as well as the means of their application are the key to an effective protection from discrimination.

In this respect associations play an important role. On the one hand they can supply discriminated persons with information on their rights, give advice and support them in court. On the other hand they themselves can file a lawsuit under certain conditions and by utilizing strategical processes and creating precedence cases can achieve advancements of great impact. 

Due, to lack of conscience and know-how only few associations take the measure available in the justice system. Even though many of them have been active in the field for several years and a growing professionalization and specialization can be observed since the German Equal Treatment Act (AGG) was introduced, there are few associations that follow a clear anti-discrimination line.

The project supported associations in fostering their practical competencies through consultation, by providing information and offering educational trainings, so as to enable them to utilize court and complaint mechanisms. This also to promote their awareness of the socio-political task in the protection against discrimination and to strengthen their self-conception as being anti-discrimination associations.


If you have questions relating to technical issues, the Menu-Point "Help/Accessibility" might provide answers. Otherwise you are welcome to direct inquiries at

Ingrid Scheffer
Phone: +49 (0)30 25 93 59 – 52
E-mail: scheffer(at)institut-fuer-menschenrechte.de 

About the German Institute for Human Rights

The German Institute for Human Rights (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte) was established based on an unanimous decision of the German Federal Parliament in 2001. The Institute is the accredited National Human Rights Institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, (A-status) based on the principles of the Paris Declaration of the United Nations from 1993.
The Institute carries out applied research, policy advice, expert discussions, conferences and human rights education in order to protect and promote human rights. The institute's human rights library is open to the public and offers up to date research literature and journals on the topic of human rights.

The Institute offers the following websites:

www.institut-fuer-menschenrechte.de/en (in English)

www.institut-fuer-menschenrechte.de (in German)

The main website of the German Institute for Human Rights provides information on the work of the Institute as well as human rights related issues and offers a unique collection of material on the international Human Rights Protection Mechanisms in German language. It is accessible for people with different disabilities (almost barrier-free) and offers material in easy-to-read language. Furthermore, the website offers more than 200 video- and audio-clips with interviews, editorial input and recordings of events at the Institute. Since 2012 we also offer sign language video-clips. In addition the website offers free subscription to a monthly newsletter, press-releases and a synopsis of new publications by the CRPD National Monitoring Body. The website offers free access to 230 publications made by the Institute and the library's online-catalogue with a directory of the media in easy-to-read language (for people with learning disabilities). Some of the Institute's events are provided as live stream along with the opportunity to chat with others on this website.

www.ich-kenne-meine-rechte.de (in German)

This website is easy accessible (barrier-free) and in easy-to-read language for people with learning disabilities. The focus lies on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2011, it won the "Silberne BIENE" award. The award is the most important price for barrier-free websites in German.

www.inklusion-als-menschenrecht.de (in German)

The website "Inklusion als Menschenrecht" offers a matchless list of information material, games, and pedagogical methods in terms of inclusion, disabilities and human rights. Target groups are particularly multipliers working in political and historical education, along with scholastic and general education of youth starting at an age of 16. The website is in German.

Project "Lawyers for Human Rights and Diversity"

The project "Lawyers for Human Rights and Diversity" aims at qualifying lawyers in the field of human rights and strengthening their diversity competence. The goal is to promote the access to justice and the protection of human rights. The long-term objective is to increase the enforcement of human rights law in German domestic courts as well as the use of international and European complaint procedures in strategic cases. The project develops training material and capacity building on human rights, non-discrimination and diversity management  for attorneys in small, medium sized and large law firms. This material supports in particular lawyers specialized in labour law and social law as well as the general attorneyship and legal trainees. It is intended to integrate all elements in the legal training curricula. The project started in January 2012 and is established for three years. It is funded by the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the European Social Fund within the XENOS program "Integration and Diversity". Further information can be found at Project "Lawyers for Human Rights and Diversity".

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Ingrid Scheffer
Online Editor
Phone: +49 30 25 93 59 - 52