Europe

Courts say Germany violates its own constitution by discriminating against peaceful religious minority

Germany’s different state, regional and local administrations continue to harass, discriminate and justify the unequal treatment of members of a minority religion despite the rulings of the country’s courts and the concerns shown by the UN’s special rapporteurs for freedom of religion and beliefs, as well as minorities issues.

For nearly 30 years, German citizens are required to sign declarations that they have not and will not participate in any Scientology-related activity before obtaining some public and private jobs, or before getting a municipal grant for something as simple as an eBike, an activity that is meant to contribute to any German city’s efforts to protect the environment.

On June 16 of this year, Munich was condemned by the Bavarian State Administrative Court of Appeals and found guilty of discriminating against an artist, who is a Scientology member, after she was refused a grant for the purchase of a “pedelec” (E-bike). In its ruling, which was served on August 3, the Court obliged the city to now pay her for the purchase of an eBike

The Court of Appeals specifically noted that Munich’s municipal government was guilty of implementing a practice that included unmistakable words that fostered an unjustified level of interference regarding religious freedom, which is guaranteed in Article 4 of the German Constitution, as well as impinging upon Article 3 – the prohibition of unequal treatment before the law.

“The exclusion of applicants, who feel bound by the Scientology teachings, from the circle of recipients of grants (for an E-Bike) also constitutes a violation of fundamental rights in multiple ways. It is incompatible with the freedom of religion or philosophy and does not satisfy the equal rights requirements of the Constitution,” the Courrt said in its ruling.

The Federal Administrative Court had already ruled as far back as 2005, which was confirmed by the Bavarian State Administrative Court – that all members of the Church of Scientology can “in any case, claim the fundamental right of Article 4, Section 1 of the Constitution”, which guarantees the inviolability of the freedom of belief.

The Court has now barred the city authorities in Munich from requiring any citizen, regardless of their religious beliefs, from being automatically excluded from its funding program for E-Bikes.

“Measures from public authorities that are directed against the practice of rights protected by Art. 4, Sect. (1) of the Constitution, at any rate, constitute indirect interferences with fundamental rights. These prerequisites are fulfilled in the case of the exclusion of Scientology adherents from the funding program when connected to their personal beliefs.” the Court’s ruling said.

According to BitterWinter, a magazine that specializes in religious liberties, “The judges also noted that the local Offices for the Protection of the Constitution have a right to operate for the ‘prevention and suppression of concrete anti-constitutional acts’, but it is not part of their job to single out individuals to be excluded from certain benefits granted to all citizens. Excluding Scientologists from state grants are incompatible with freedom of religion or belief since, according to the case-law of the Federal Supreme Administrative Court, those whose personal life is governed by the doctrine of Scientology can invoke the protection of religious or philosophical freedom,’ irrespective of the evaluation of Scientology by the Offices for the Protection of the Constitution.”

“For reasons of equal treatment, the exclusion of Scientology members from the funding program (in the city of Munich) must be considered illegal,” the Court added in its publicly released statement.

While this type of ruling is increasingly becoming the norm, German authorities continue to use and condone blatant acts of discrimination and have even publicly funded the harassment of Scientology members.

In September 2020, requests were sent to the Human Rights Council to take action against Germany in order to bring a halt to these frequent human rights violations. While some diplomatic actions may have occurred, NGOs are insisting that the UN’s Human Rights Council take up the issue with the German delegation to put pressure on them to maintain their commitments to human rights and to guaranteeing the basic dignity of all Scientologists in Germany.

Furthermore, when moving ahead, no reprisals must be taken against the Scientologists, or their churches, and individuals need to be free from being ostracized by the community where they live.

For their part, German courts have said that they do not violate the law, which was confirmed by another High Court in Baden-Württemberg on March 4. In that case, the government issued an order barring a Scientologist from the security areas of German airports, solely because the man in question was a Scientology member. The State Administrative Appeals Court, however, later confirmed that the order was a gross violation of the authority’s discretionary powers.

The above shows that human rights violations against Scientologists, and anyone using L. Ron Hubbard teachings and administrative methods, do occur in Germany and are carried out by the country’s general administrative practice. If this were not the case, Scientologists would not be required to defend their human rights each time in lengthy court proceedings.

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