Catholic Church Germany implements diversity in labour law


Central Europe


Pride parade in Berlin next to a church. Photo EPA, Felipe Trueba

Germany's Catholic Church has established a new labour law. It should promote diversity among church employees and no longer discriminate based on personal lifestyle. Yet, some argue that the new church order does not go far enough.

The Roman Catholic Church used to have, up till now, the right to fire a homosexual employee if he lived openly in a same-sex relationship. However, last month, the German Catholic Church passed a new labour law that allows LGBT people to continue working in the Church, even if they are living in a same-sex relationship, Reuters reports. In total, the Church employs about 800,000 people.

The new regulation states that the Church will no longer discriminate against people based on their "gender" and "sexual identity." Therefore, employees, such as nurses and librarians, will not be fired if they remarry after divorce, for example. The new church order does not change much for LGBT priests and nuns, as they live in celibacy anyways.

The amendment comes a year after more than 120 Catholic Church employees acknowledged that they belonged to the LGBT community. They did so to end "discrimination under Church rules." Officially, the Vatican condemns same-sex relationships. However, the German Catholic Church has recently been deviating from these official doctrines.


At the same time, queer Catholics criticise the amendment, as it still does not protect them sufficiently. They fear that transgenders are left without protection, Katholisch.de reports.

Tübingen labour lawyer Hermann Reichold explains that the motivation behind the amendment is that "diversity is an enrichment." He points out that the change is based on the terms mentioned in the German Act on Equal Treatment (AGG), which also applies to people with different sexual identities.

The amendment is a 180-degree turn in Church legislation, Reichold acknowledges. "A judge will read this wording and consider it obvious that the assessments of the AGG were adopted here."


It is not the first time that the Roman Catholic Church in Germany chooses a more liberal course. The Synodal Path, a Catholic body in Germany, earlier discussed the abolition of celibacy, the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex relationships. In response, the Vatican expressed concerns about this course.



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