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Legal Framework

Sexualized harassment, discrimination, and violence infringe on the core principles of human rights. That is why behavior of this nature is prohibited in Germany by a variety of provisions at university, state, and federal level. You can find some of the most important legal texts concerning this matter below

Internal University Guidelines:

Regulations on Sexualized Harassment, Discrimination and Violence at Freie Universität Berlin
As well as offering a definition of sexualized harassment, discrimination and violence, these regulations from 2020 outline key approaches and procedures in handling incidents of this nature at Freie Universität Berlin. They also address raising awareness and preventative measures.


Guidelines on the Promotion of Women at Freie Universität Berlin
These guidelines include measures that have been put in place at Freie Universität Berlin to dismantle structural discrimination against women. They also obligate Freie Universität Berlin to undertake measures to prevent sexualized harassment, discrimination, and violence and indicate how to proceed in the event that such incidents take place (Section 28).

On the State Level (State of Berlin):

State Gender Equality Act (Landesgleichstellungsgesetz)
Berlin’s State Gender Equality Act (Landesgleichstellungsgesetz, LGG) addresses sexual harassment at the workplace (Section 12) alongside a plan to promote women’s professional advancement and guidelines on hiring, selection procedures, and much more. This section of the act stipulates that managerial staff have a duty of care to their employees in preventing sexualized harassment, discrimination, and violence and must pursue incidents that fall into this category. It also states that submitting a complaint must not result in the plaintiff suffering any disadvantage.


Berlin State Anti-Discrimination Act (Landes-Antidiskriminierungsgesetz)
The Berlin State Anti-Discrimination Act (Landes-Antidiskriminierungsgesetz, LADG) – which has been in force since June 2020 – applies to all individuals under public law and prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnic background, perceived race, religion and beliefs, disability, chronic illness, age, language, sexual orientation and gender, or social status. It offers both employees and students protection against sexual harassment and allows them to assert claims for compensation.

On the Federal Level:

General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz)
The General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, AGG) of 2006 protects employees against discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics including ethnic background, religion and beliefs, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender. An individual is entitled to legal remedies and to file a claim according to the AGG if they have been subjected to disadvantage without objective reason on the grounds of one or more of these protected characteristics. The AGG also defines and protects employees specifically from sexual harassment at the workplace (Section 3(4)).


German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB; Sections 174 to 184j)
The German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB) governs “offences against sexual self-determination.” Section 177 addresses sexual assault, and the revised 2016 version of the law puts the wishes of the person who has suffered the assault at the forefront. This change has made sexual acts punishable by law where an individual signals that they do not give their consent, for example by saying “no” or crying (otherwise known as the “no means no” principle). It has also made clear that sexual acts where an individual does not have the capacity to give consent are illegal. Sexual harassment can be prosecuted under Section 184i if it can be considered sexually motivated physical harassment.


You can find further information on the legal frameworks relevant to sexualized harassment, discrimination, and violence at the Office of the Standing Working Group on Sexualized Harassment, Discrimination, and Violence.