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Members of the Black community rally against racism in Cologne, January 2020/ Photo credit: Anna Evgenevna Zhukovets/ Sonnenblumen Community Development Group e.V.

Germany to remove the word “race” from the Constitution – Justice Minister

According to Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD), the Federal Government wants to have the controversial term “race” quickly deleted from the Basic Law, the country’s constitution.

“There is complete agreement that there are no different races of people,” the politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. “That is why we in the Federal Government have agreed to revise the Basic Law at this point,” she stressed. The term should be replaced by a new wording to protect against racism.

“The Basic Law states that no one may be discriminated against on grounds of race,” Lambrecht quoted from Article 3, paragraph 3. “When our constitution was written in 1949, the term was included in order to clearly distance ourselves from Nazi racial ideology”, the Minister explained. However, the use of the term could lead to misunderstandings today and was therefore rightly criticised. “Wherever there is talk of different races, it is mainly prejudices and racist incitement that resurface today”, said Lambrecht.

However, the term should not be removed from the Constitution without replacement. “The Basic Law must protect against racism without talking about ‘race’,” Lambrecht stressed. “It is important that the same protection is guaranteed as before and that those affected do not perceive this as a deterioration,” she added. “I continue to advocate a change as soon as possible,” said the Minister, who is to prepare a draft to this effect together with Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Hamburg and Thuringia intend to present a draft amendment to the Bundesrat this week. According to the Hamburg proposal, the word “race” should be replaced by “racist” elsewhere. The draft states: “No one shall be discriminated against or favoured on account of his or her sex, ancestry, language, homeland and origin, faith, religious or political beliefs or racial discrimination or preference”. Currently, the Basic Law states: “No one may be disadvantaged or favoured on account of his or her sex, ancestry, race, language, home and origin, faith, religious or political views”.

Activists and politicians, across the political spectrum, have called for the word “race” to be deleted from the constitution.

Sola Jolaoso

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