Rights and obligations

Rights and obligations
What is the “Grundgesetz” (constitution)?

Not matter what skin colour you have, if you are religious or not, where you come from and what language you speak - in Germany everyone has the same rights. That is stated by the German constitution, the “Grundgesetz”. It applies to all the people living in Germany and ensures a peaceful coexistence. Everyone has to respect the values of the constitution.

What are my most important rights?

Equality before the law: All persons are equal before the law. The Grundgesetz ensures that everyone has the same opportunities. Discriminating against someone because of their gender, skin colour, religion or sexual orientation is prohibited and punishable under criminal law. In Germany, men and women have the same rights. Homosexuality is legal in Germany. Homosexual partnerships can be registered similar to marriages.

Freedom of faith and conscience: You are free to choose and practice the religion you want or to practice no religion at all. Religion is considered as private. Germany has no official religion. Noone can be discriminated because of their believes. At the same time you should respect the believes of others.

Freedom of expression: Every person has the right to freely express his opinion as long he or she does not discriminate against, insult or threaten others. Most of the time, people have debates or discussions to seek compromises. There are special rights for the press, the so-called freedom of the press.

Protection of marriage and the family: Marriage and the family are very important and enjoy special protection. Every person has the right to freely choose his or her spouse. Women and men are equal partners in a marriage.

Right to vote: Everyone who has acquired the German citizenship has the right to vote and to be elected. Refugees and migrants have the right to become active in political parties, associations and other organisations. There are also elected advisory boards for foreign nationals or for integration (Ausländer- or Migrationsbeirat). Those boards consist of people who have moved to Germany. They exist in almost all communities to represent the political interests of immigrants.

What are my most important obligations?

Loyalty to the constitution: You are obligated to abide by the constitution and the legal system of Germany. Freedom and Equality apply to everyone in Germany, to men, women and children.

Evidence of identity: Non-nationals are obligated to carry their personal identification documents with them (passport, travel documents issued in lieu of passports or other identification documents). This is especially important if you go to the immigration office or if you meet a policeman. If you have lost your passport or other travel documents you are obliged  to cooperate in establishing your identity. That means you have to answer questions about your age, identity and nationality.