Specific minority legislation and measures
And finally, there are also specific minority legislation and measures in European and German law. In Germany, the constitutions of the federal Lands are more generous towards the minorities than the German Basic Law is.
The Danes are explicitly protected by the Constitution of Schleswig-Holstein.
Furthermore they receive specific protection because of the Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations. In 1955, Germany and Denmark both issued government declarations: Germany recognised the Danish minority that is living in Germany and at the same time the Denmark recognised the German minority that is living on Danish territory. The declarations recognise the freedom to choose whether or not someone considers him- or herself to belong to a minority (freedom of affiliation). The declarations also reaffirm the equality of all citizens. The two countries agreed to an additional declaration about financial support for the respective minority in the German-Danish border region.
The Schleswig-Holstein Election Code contains privileges for the parties of the Danish minority, similar to the Federal Election Law. This means that the so-called five-percent-clause, according to which only those parties are taken into account that achieve at least five percent of the votes or that achieve a direct mandate in at least three election districts, does not apply to the parties of the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein.
- Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations (German)
- History of the Südschleswigscher Wählerverband (SSW) – the South Schleswig Voters’ Association (German)
The Frisians are explicitly protected by the constitution of Schleswig-Holstein. In 2004 the Schleswig-Holstein parliament (Landtag) adopted the so-called Frisian Law that provides support for and protects the Frisian language and culture. It recognises the Frisian language forms and their free use and guarantees the specific rights of the Frisians, e.g. to use Frisian in contacts with the authorities or the use of bilingual place-name signs.
- Law to support Frisian in the public sphere (Frisian Law) (German)
- Overview of legal provisions relevant for the Frisian minority in Germany (German)
The Sorbs are explicitly protected firstly by a protocol note to the German Unification Treaty and secondly by the laws of the Lands of Brandenburg and the Free State of Saxony, where the minority is living.
- Protocol note to the German Unification Treaty (German)
- Law on the Rights of the Sorbs in the Free State of Saxony (German)
- Law on the Rights of the Sorbs/Wends in the Land of Brandenburg (German)
- Further legal provision (German)
Sinti and Roma
The amendment of the Constitution of Schleswig-Holstein in November 2012 made that for the first time the German Sinti and Roma received explicit protection in a German federal land.
In November 2013 the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg and the Chair of the regional association of German Sinti and Roma signed a state agreement. This state agreement contains a clear commitment to recognise the Baden-Württemberg Sinti and Roma and defined mandatory support for the minority.
Further (framework) agreements under public law exist between different regional governments and the regional associations of German Sinti and Roma in Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bremen. There is a similar “Joint Declaration” in Bavaria, where based a decision by the regional parliament (Landtag) currently negotiations are taking place about an state agreement under public law.
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