For the first time, there is now an Independent Federal Anti-Discrimination Commissioner in Germany. The federal parliament, the Bundestag, elected Ferda Ataman into the office on Friday.
Ms Ataman will also be the head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes) as she succeeds Bernhard Franke, who had been the acting as head of the agency in recent years.
“As Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, I will stand up for all people who experience disadvantages – be it because of their age, disability, origin, gender, sexual identity, religion or ideology,” Ataman said after her election.
Ataman also announced that she would work for a quick implementation of the improvements in the legal protection against discrimination announced in the coalition agreement of the federal government and would contribute the expertise of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency. In addition to this reform of the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG), the expansion of nationwide counselling against discrimination, including civil society counselling, is important, she said.
Ataman’s election was preceded by an amendment to the General Equal Treatment Act of May 2022 by the Bundestag. According to the amendment, the head of the Anti-Discrimination Agency will be elected by the Bundestag for a term of five years and will be given the status of an Independent Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination.
Ataman was born to Turkish immigrant parents in Stuttgart in 1979 and grew up in Nuremberg. The journalist, political scientist, columnist and author, headed the Public Relations and Communications Department of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency and from 2012 to 2016 the Media Service Integration, an information service for journalists of the Council for Migration.
Ferda Ataman has also functioned as spokeswoman of the New German Organisation (Neue Deutsche Organisation) and New German Media Practitioners (Neue deutsche Medienmacher*innen). After her formal appointment by the Federal President, Ataman is expected to take office this week.
The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency advises people affected by discrimination and regularly submits reports on the type and extent of discrimination. The basis of its work is the General Equal Treatment Act.