Skip to content


Germany is taking steps towards becoming a more pluralistic society, but deep social, cultural and religious divides still remain.

Assessed Groups

  • Ethno-Religious, Immigrant and Post-Migrant Groups
  • National Minorities

Germany has a diverse population made up of many different cultures, backgrounds and nationality status. Though the country attempts to create a welcoming environment, discrimination and prejudice towards minority groups persist, often leading to a lack of recognition and support for diverse groups. The German government has recently implemented policies to promote equality and diversity, including advisory councils and anti-discrimination agencies, as well as legislation to combat hate speech. However, there are challenges to achieving pluralism. Ethnic Germans are often privileged over those from marginalized communities. Historical abuses of data surface concerns that data collection related to people’s ethnic backgrounds could lead to discrimination. The Global Pluralism Monitor: Germany report highlights the steps the country has taken to embrace and support its diverse population, while recognizing that there are still challenges to overcome. This assessment was completed in 2021.


Equality in legal commitments except for citizenship

Germany has extensive commitments that protect the rights of women, children and minorities and prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, race and religion. Germany’s Nationality Act allows dual citizenship and provides access to German citizenship beyond descent.

However, the process of acquiring citizenship can be exclusionary. In requiring applicants to adhere to German social norms and living conditions, Germany’s Nationality Act exhibits some biases that limit access to citizenship for applicants from Muslim backgrounds and post-war labour migrants.

Lack of representation and rising levels of inequality

Even with extensive legal commitments that seek to increase diversity, Germany struggles to guarantee equal access and representation across workplaces, the government and the media.

Both in the government and media, individuals with immigrant backgrounds are underrepresented. State support to increase this representation is lacking. Alongside this lack of representation, discrimination based on ethnicity and religion is also rising in the workplace. Muslim applicants are often overlooked in hiring processes and signs of religious affiliation, such as the headscarf, are often detrimental to a candidate’s success.

Increased violence and far-right terrorism

Members of marginalized communities are often the targets of far-right terrorism, structural inequalities and extremism. There is an ongoing rise of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and anti-Roma hate crimes that reduce individuals’ sense of safety, trust and belonging in Germany.

While many Germans exhibit greater acceptance towards individuals of diverse backgrounds, acts of violence prevent many individuals from freely expressing themselves and feeling at home in Germany.


Policy-specific recommendations

To move towards a more pluralistic society, Germany can further support or enact laws that aim to bolster the country’s stance on diversity and inclusion. This includes enacting a law on anti-Romanian sentiment by the president, reporting systematically at the state level about the implementation of minority laws.

Moreover, across society, political parties can be made more accessible to minorities regardless of their citizenship status. The government can offer structured support for diploma recognition to support immigrants’ financial inclusion.  The government can also determine safe countries for asylum seekers by considering cumulative grounds for persecution and minority protection. Lastly, Germany currently uses the term “German with migrant background” which is exclusionary and makes a differentiation between ‘ethnic’ Germans and those who migrated. To promote greater inclusion, the government can move toward abolishing this term.

General recommendations

Germany has many opportunities to improve its inclusivity for ethnic groups. For instance, the government extend the Antidiscrimination Agency’s purpose to cover hate speech, intersectional discrimination, and promote the independent monitoring of anti-discrimination bodies.

Additionally, Germany can establish new groups of minority representation, help increase minority youth’s involvement in political life, support minority media, revise the classification system of hate crime data and fight against racial profiling. Lastly, the state can impose mandatory diversity management training for teachers, compulsory quotas for gender-neutral workplaces and integrate programs that raise awareness on the Sinti and Roma population’s rights.


Legal Commitments

International Commitments

Average score: 9

Germany is bound by various international and regional agreements to protect the rights of minorities, women and children. As a member of the European Union (EU), Germany must offer protections against discrimination based on many factors. It has also ratified treaties to protect cultural and language rights for national minorities.

National Commitments

Average score: 7

The German Constitution is the core document protecting human and minority rights, with articles ensuring the commitment to human rights, the inviolability of human dignity and prohibiting discrimination. The General Equal Treatment Act aims to prevent discrimination, but there are notable blind spots in the law, such as legal exemptions for Christian denominations. State constitutions address national minorities and minority languages but often lack implementation.

Inclusive Citizenship

Average score: 5

Germany’s Nationality Act has undergone reform since 2000 to expand access to citizenship beyond descent. An individual can acquire German citizenship through birth, adoption, restoration of citizenship, repatriation and naturalization. However, biases still exist towards applicants with Muslim backgrounds and post-war labour migrants, especially from Turkey. The naturalization process has multiple requirements, including language acquisition and adhering to a civic creed. The Nationality Act was amended in 2019 to include adherence to “German living conditions” and “German social norms” to acquire citizenship.


Policy Implementation

Average score: 6

Germany’s arrangements for pluralist policy-making are spread across different regional and administrative levels. Policies for supporting minorities are reserved for the state rather than the federal level. As major public service employers, German states set the tone for pluralist policy-making but vary considerably in their approaches to ethno-religious accommodation. Some states take proactive roles in accommodating national minority groups. Financial support and symbolic accommodations tend to be locally focused and not generally available across the board to other national minority groups in Germany.

Data Collection

Average score: 5

The German government is reluctant to collect demographic data broken down by citizenship, national/ethnic origin, language and religion, making it difficult to map inequalities to inform diversity-related policies. There is no systematic data collection at the national level on ethnic background or national minority status. Existing data on racial and ethnic origin has largely been collected based on migration background. Research networks play an important role in monitoring ethnic discrimination or anti-Muslim racism.

Claims-Making and Contestation

Average score: 7

The German Basic Law protects freedom of association and the right to participate in public protests. However, minority organizations often face funding issues, and Muslims face particular challenges due to suspicion directed at them and a continuous exclusion.  New minorities in Germany are often forced to choose between German or kin-state citizenship, limiting their political participation. Some national minority groups have mechanisms for political inclusion, but initiatives to improve representation of Muslims are lacking. The most significant Muslim organizations are surveilled and hindered from applying for state-funded projects.

Leadership for Pluralism

Political Parties

Average score: 5

Germany has a diverse political party system, but political representation of minority identities and voices is still lacking. The Christian Democratic Union and Social Democrats were historically known as “people’s parties,” but now receive a smaller percentage of the national vote. Alternative für Deutschland emerged as a radicalized party expressing hostility towards immigrants and Muslims. Political actors with immigrant backgrounds are underrepresented in the parliament, representing only 8.2 percent of delegates.

News Media: Representation

Average score: 6

Public broadcasters in Germany are constitutionally mandated to contribute to public discourse, public needs and the functioning of democratic political culture. Media coverage of ethnic/religious groups in Germany succumbs to prejudice against specific groups. However, German mainstream media generally strives to reflect a positive discussion on integration and immigration.

News Media: Prominence of Pluralistic Actors

Average score: 7

Minorities are insufficiently present in the public media service, and state support for minority media is equally insufficient. This is primarily due to the state’s rigid interpretation of media neutrality, which is used to justify the lack of state action in this sector.

Civil Society

Average score: 7

Germany has a diverse civil society of around 645,000 organizations and movements. Many are financially supported by government programs or corporate foundations, potentially limiting their independence. Religious organizations have access to public consultations and social services through their status as “corporation under public law,” but Muslim associations have only been granted this status for smaller religious denominations, and not for the religion as a whole. Migrant advocacy and pro-refugee organizations face hostility and are negatively labelled.

Private Sector

Average score: 4

Discrimination in the workplace continues to be a problem, with the workplace being the primary space for discrimination. However, it is challenging to establish the patterns of this discrimination due to the lack of data collected by German employers on race, religion, sexual orientation or worldview. Instances of discrimination based on ethnic and religious grounds occur during the job application processes, with Muslim applicants often being skipped over. Women wearing headscarves also face discrimination in the workplace, gender pay gap issues and are underrepresentation in management positions.

Group-based Inequalities


Average score: 5

Post-migrant populations in Germany, that is, individuals who migrated in the past but whose cultural, ethnic or ‘racial’ background continues to be seen as a marker of ‘difference’, have low naturalization rates, hindering their ability to vote or assist in elections. Discriminatory naturalization requirements have prevented many Muslim-background aspirants, especially from Turkey, from enjoying the right to vote and stand for elections. New minorities in the German Parliament remain underrepresented, with individual politicians with a migration background representing their own interests.


Average score: 5

Germany has a progressive tax system but low social mobility and income inequality spanning generations. Foreign-born Germans, particularly women, are overrepresented among the unemployed. Intersectional discrimination is present in public and private sector employment. Muslim women wearing headscarves often face discrimination in recruitment and at work. Descendants of immigrants face discrimination, racial penalties and prejudice related to ethnicity and religion, with evidence of discrimination, inequality and lack of opportunities for Romani groups.


Average score: 5

Migrants and their descendants in Germany face difficulties accessing high-quality housing, education and health services despite subsidized housing, free education and a functional system. New minorities tend to have lower education and employment rates caused by obstacles such as lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and the absence of bilingual education programs. Immigrants also face discrimination in the health care system and experience lower income, especially women.


Average score: 6

A survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that while cultural diversity is celebrated, approximately half of Germans believe that minority groups must adapt to the dominant culture. Only 10 percent of respondents believe different cultures can coexist side by side. Non-European and Muslim minorities experience inequalities, with negative attitudes particularly prevalent in the former East Germany. Sinti and Roma continue to face discrimination, with approximately one-third of Germans not welcoming them as neighbours.

Access to Justice

Average score: 7

The German judicial system is strong, providing access to justice for everyone through various channels. Special state bodies, complaint mechanisms and legal aid services help address discrimination. Racial profiling remains an issue, but low-income individuals can be represented in court at a low cost. Alternative conflict resolution options are available through the Mediation Act, and NGOs and human rights organizations can receive funding through state and EU grants.

Intergroup Relations and Belonging

Intergroup Violence

Average score: 6

Xenophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and anti-Roma hate crimes are on the rise in Germany, with far-right perpetrators being responsible for the vast majority of incidents. Anti-Semitic crimes and violence have been increasing in recent years. A study saw 78 percent of Jewish participants state that anti-Semitism increased slightly or strongly in the past five years and 83 percent believe it will increase within the next five years. Far-right violence also targets national minorities, such as the Sorb minority.

Intergroup Trust

Average score: 6

In Germany, there is a trend towards a higher acceptance of diversity over time. Survey data reveals that groups marked as “different” on religious or ethnic grounds do not experience higher levels of mistrust by the general public. Still, even with this movement towards acceptance, class and regional differences impact intergroup trust and public opinion about diversity. Young Muslim men often experience considerable mistrust. National minorities like Sinti and Roma also suffer from discrimination and racism, with 26 percent of Germans holding hostile opinions about them.

Trust in Institutions

Average score: 7

According to various surveys, participants with migrant backgrounds tend to trust the courts, public prosecution system and police, although specific events that undermine this trust have occurred. The level of trust in public health and education systems also varies among participants with and without migrant backgrounds.

Inclusion and Acceptance

Average score: 4

Socio-economic status and a willingness to integrate determine how well an individual will be accepted in German society, but discrimination and institutionalized inequalities continue to result in group-based marginalization. “Othering”, where majority groups view minorities as inferior, is an issue, especially for foreign-born, non-white individuals and Muslims. Discrimination and exclusion are particularly visible with Muslim women. Survey data shows that foreign-born individuals experience a lower sense of belonging and higher rates of discrimination.

Shared Ownership of Society

Average score: 5

The revised German citizenship law allows for more inclusive understandings of citizenship and belonging. Still, structural underrepresentation in the public sector persists, with low political participation among eligible voters with immigrant backgrounds. Strong associations exist to represent excluded minorities, such as the Central Council of Jews in Germany.