equal rights

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Equality describes the equality of different legal subjects in a certain legal system .


Equality is rooted in the ideas of humanism and the Enlightenment and is the essence of human dignity . It was a demand of the French Revolution as equality of social classes in the state (égalité) alongside freedom (liberté) and brotherhood (fraternité) . The declaration of human and civil rights formulated in 1789 ( Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen ) serves as the basic text, among other things. for equality of rights. However, the statement did not include women. In 1791, Olympe de Gouges therefore demanded full legal, political and social equality of all genders with herDeclaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens ( Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne ). It was not until the 20th century that women became equal in the state in Europe, which can betracedback to the introduction of women's suffrage (Germany and Austria 1918, Switzerland 1971). As a result, significant equality for numerous social minorities was developed.

Today, worldwide equality is based on the principle of equality of the UN Human Rights Convention:

"All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

“Equal right for all” is therefore a fundamental human right that is on the same level as freedom and dignity . Regardless of this, rights can be withdrawn (e.g. in the event of a criminal offense) or, for example, be subject to special regulations during childhood . This corresponds to the expanded principle of treating like equals, unequal unequal ”.

Especially in the western world (Europe, North America) there are strong tendencies towards equality. This is not least due to the wave of enlightenment in the 18th to 20th centuries.

Definition of discrimination, privilege

Interventions in equality are referred to as discrimination or privilege.

Discrimination : someone is legally disadvantaged because of objectively unjustified reasons, for example racist, because of his gender or his sexuality, etc.
Privilege : someone is legally preferred.

Both are considered to interfere with the principle of equality. In many cases, equality is equated or confused with equality and equality . According to the constitution and human rights, however, equality does not mean:

that all or certain people would be virtually the same by nature,
that the de facto equality of all or certain people should be striven for,
that all or certain people should be factually equalized / equalized.

Critics of “equality policy” see this as a conflict with the principle of equality . The equality of men and women would be confused with “equality” in the sense mentioned above.



In order to politically rebuild the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War , the Parliamentary Council was convened in 1948 to work out a new Basic Law . The formulation of Article 3, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law, “Men and women have equal rights”, goes back to the initiative of Elisabeth Selbert , one of the four so-called mothers of the Basic Law . The original formulation, still from the Weimar constitution , was: "Men and women have the same civil rights and duties" . However, Selbert called for a principle that should enshrine equality as a fundamental right in the constitution. As a result, many of the then, dating back to 1896, marriage and family law provisions in the Civil Code also had to be revised, as they now contradicted this principle. The Adenauer government allowed the date set for this as a transitional regulation in Article 117 “31. March 1953 “passed by inactive.

A violation of Article 3 GG for men took place on July 21, 1956 when the Military Service Act (WPflG) came into force . All German men who were born after July 1, 1937 (see white year ) were required to do military service . In 1968, compulsory military service and service according to Art. 12a itself was anchored in the Basic Law and thus takes precedence as a lex specialis of equality within this framework.

The mandate of Article 3, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law to implement equality in simple federal law took place only 4 years late and not completely: On May 3, 1957, the German Bundestag implemented the resolution of the Equal Rights Act ("Law on Equal Rights of Men and women in the field of civil law ") an essential step towards the reorganization of the laws that contradicted the Basic Law, and thus towards the implementation of equality between men and women. Before that there had been heated debates in the plenary session, among other things, on the principle of the final decision , which the CDU / CSU believes should be granted to men in matters of community life. On this question, the Union parties were narrowly defeated.

Central points of the law on equality between men and women , which came into force on July 1, 1958:

  • The husband's final decision-making right in all marriage matters is deleted without replacement.
  • The husband's obligation to provide for the family remains in place.
  • The community of gains becomes the statutory property regime . Women are allowed to manage the assets brought into the marriage themselves. Until then, women were allowed to have their own income from work , but men were allowed to dispose of the woman's assets. [1] [2]
  • The husband's right to terminate his wife's employment relationship without notice is abolished (but only since the First Law on the Reform of Marriage and Family Law , which came into force in 1977, can the wife work without her husband's consent, and the partnership principle has only been in effect since then , after which there is no longer any legally prescribed division of tasks in marriage).
  • The woman has the right to use her maiden name as a name affix after her marriage (since 1977 the spouses have been able to use either the name of the husband or the wife as a joint married name; and since 1994, both spouses can keep their old family name).
  • The paternal privileges in bringing up children were restricted to the privilege of a so-called casting vote , which gave the father the decisive word in disputes over questions of upbringing. The German Association of Women Lawyers filed a complaint against this with the Federal Constitutional Court . In July 1959, the passage on the casting vote was declared unconstitutional and null and void.

The fundamental right of equality

  • is directly applicable law ( Article 1, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law ). See also prohibition of arbitrariness .
  • is not subject to the so-called "eternity guarantee" ( Art. 79 para. 3 GG), so it may be changed by constitutional amendments (such as the above-mentioned Article 12a added in 1968, which only allows military service for men).
  • In contrast to many other basic rights, it is not subject to any legal reservation .
  • regulates the relationship between citizens and the state, so it does not apply in principle between private individuals, but can have a third-party effect.
  • is an individual right, not a right of certain groups (collectives).

The Basic Law formulates equality in Article 3, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law as a prohibition of differentiation .


In Austria - together with the historically connected neighboring countries - formal equality of rights for residents was introduced with the anchoring of civil rights in the March constitution of 1849. The concept of equality was expanded with the abolition of the nobility in 1919 and the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Religious freedom was granted between 1871 ( tolerance patent for Protestants, freedom of belief and conscience December  1867, Judaism  1890, Islam  1912) and 1919 ( Treaty of Saint-Germain ) realized. The general male suffrage was introduced in 1907 ( Beck's reform of the electoral law ) , the female suffrage in  1918. The minority ethnic groups were recognized in 1955 ( State Treaty ) , followed by the Minority School Act , the Court Language Act and the Ethnic Groups Act of  1976. In 1975 , the co-education of boys and girls was introduced in public schools. and there is community service instead of armed service. In 1979, the Equal Treatment Act  (GlBG) made any discrimination in the world of work a criminal offense. In 1990 Austria also signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child . When it joined the EU in 1992 , many civil rights were extended to the Union. In 2005 sign language was recognized as a minority language. In 2006, full equality for the disabled ( B-GStG ) was enshrined (including the ban on discrimination in everyday life and the right to accessibility in public life), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed in 2007 . In 2008, accessibility on the Internet (for all forms of handicap, including technical restrictions) was prescribed for official websites. In 2010, basic transgender rights were added with the registered partnership (EPG) .

Today, historically grown, statutory gender inequality still exists, for example in terms of compulsory military service for men (women voluntarily since 1998 ) or the different retirement ages (two measures that were originally intended to compensate for child leave , introduced in 1957 , joint parental leave since 2003 ). In fact, there are still big differences, known for example in the income gap (lower salary for the same working hours) or the glass ceiling (low proportion in management positions despite the same proportion in education / training). Minorities and social fringe groups are also still far from being treated equally in everyday life. Regional differences result from the fact that partly EU and federal law apply , partly state law .

In general, an intensive gender equality policy is being pursued, but it is only slowly showing success. There are also independent institutions such as the Ombud for Equal Treatment . There are two central paradigms, the principle of equal treatment and the prohibition of discrimination . The basis of the measures for equality (i.e. to achieve the actual implementation of equality) is therefore positive support (support for the affairs of one group without neglecting the other). This is implemented in the advancement of women by the fact that there has been a women's ministry since 1991 (mostly as minister of the Chancellery , since 2007 as women's affairs, equality and public service ) and the contact women (women's representatives) . The bilingual minority areas of Austria , for example, are similar measures . Wherever equality cannot be achieved in principle - and is also not sought (children, old people, disabled people), there are explicit preferential measures (such as the priority of the child's best interests according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and special legal representatives, such as the federal disability attorney , children's rights -Monitoring Board  (KMB) at the Ministry of Youth and the child and youth advocacy offices of the federal states.


In Switzerland the demand for equality before the law resp. Legal equality Part of the list of demands of the predominantly successful liberal revolutions in the cantons around 1830. The primary aim was to eliminate the multitude of privileges that led to the birth of the sometimes aristocratic ruling classes. There was still discrimination against women, the elimination of which only began with the introduction of women's suffrage and voting rights in 1971.

See also


Web links

Commons : equality  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: equality  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Reinhold Zippelius , Der Gleichheitssatz, in: Publications of the Association of German Constitutional Law Teachers, Vol. 47, 1989, pp. 7 ff.
  2. ^ Path to Equal Rights, ( Memento from March 17, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Information on Political Education (Issue 254), Federal Agency for Political Education
  3. E-book equality. Retrieved May 11, 2015 .
  4. Frankfurt Declaration (Movement). Retrieved May 11, 2015 .
  5. Women's suffrage, State Center for Political Education Baden-Württemberg
  6. ^ Dossier 60 years of the FRG. Men and women are equal !. Cornelia Filter on Elisabeth Selbert. In: EMMA, June / July 2009
  7. BVerfG, judgment of July 29, 1959, Az. 1 BvR 205, 332, 333, 367/58, 1 BvL 27, 100/58, BVerfGE 10, 59 - Parental authority.
  8. Equal treatment , help.gv.at;
    Anti-discrimination legislation in Austria. (PDF) October 2004, archived from the original on October 12, 2013 ; Retrieved March 3, 2016 .
  9. Recognized religions in Austria
  10. Equal opportunities and gender equality in schools , help.gv.at
  11. The prohibition of discrimination , zara.or.at
  12. ^ Children's rights in Austria , kinderrechte.gv.at; Children's rights , kija.at
  13. ^ Equal opportunities for people with disabilities , help.gv.at;
    Barrier-free building ( memento from February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) , bundessozialamt.gv.at;
    Accessibility - Law and Law in Practice. (PPTX) Archived from the original on February 1, 2014 ; Retrieved March 3, 2016 .
  14. Web Accessibility - Internet access for everyone , digitales.oesterreich.gv.at;
    Austria: Laws regarding accessibility on the Internet. April 20, 2009, archived from the original on February 3, 2014 ; Retrieved March 3, 2016 .
  15. Soldatin.Bundesheer.at
  16. Parental leave ( memento of February 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) , help.gv.at; Karenz.at
  17. Minorities in Austria , minderheiten.at
  18. on local problems of implementation, see also → Local sign dispute