The GFF supported the complaint by Christiane Renz, who wants to participate in the traditional river fishing in Memmingen. The bylaws of the Fishers' Day Association Memmingen arbitrarily excluded women from the annual trout fishing. This practice is illegal. The ruling of the Memmingen District Court was issued on 31 August, stating that the discrimination of women by associations is prohibited. This decision was confirmed by the Memmingen Regional Court on 28 July 2021, following an appeal by the Fishers' Day Association.
Men may fish, women and girls watch
The Fishers' Day Association Memmingen is the central local cultural association. The main purpose of the association is the organisation and realisation of the annual "Fishers' Day", a traditional festival in Memmingen with about 20,000 to 30,000 guests and participants. The highlight of this festival is the trout fishing at the local river. Whoever catches the heaviest trout from the river is crowned King of the Fishers.
According to the bylaws of the Fishers' Day Association, only male members of the association may be admitted to the group of river fishers. This also includes boys from the age of 6. Women are allowed to stand on the sidelines and receive the fish.
District court and regional court state that discrimination is prohibited
After unsuccessful motions to amend the bylaws, Christiane Renz, with the support of the Society for Civil Rights, brought a lawsuit for equal rights to participate in fishing. The Memmingen District Court ruled in her favour on 31 August 2020, stating that the Fishers' Day Association Memmingen is "indirectly bound by fundamental rights even as an association under private law". The court emphasised the social importance of the association and the lack of alternatives. With 5000 members, the Fishers' Day Association occupies a prominent position in Memmingen. The Fishers' Day organised by the association is unique in the region and constitutive for the city's identity. According to the association's board, it is difficult to imagine Memmingen without Fishers' Day. The District Court clearly rejected tradition as a justification for the exclusion of women. Equal rights would be meaningless if every social reality from the past had to be accepted.
The Fishers' Day Association Memmingen appealed against the District Court's decision. The Regional Court of Memmingen confirmed the ruling on 28 July 2021. The Regional Court's decision underlines that associations may not arbitrarily discriminate against female members.
The Fishers' Day Association is not an isolated case
Whether it is a shooting club, social club, drumming group, rowing club or freemasonry - women still do not have the same rights as men in many associations.
The Society for Civil Rights is committed to ensuring that the hard-won prohibition of discrimination in the Basic Law is finally respected by associations.
Christiane Renz from Memmingen is not only fighting for her own right to participate equally in association life. She wants to prevent girls from being taught the traditional role of women. And she wants to encourage women to exercise their rights in other areas as well.
Strengthening the prohibition of discrimination in private law
The GFF uses legal means to oppose all forms of discrimination - by the state, but also by private individuals. In Germany in particular, private associations are currently largely given a free hand, so that people are discriminated against on the basis of their gender or other personal characteristics. But even associations are not allowed to discriminate without an objective reason. This case can contribute to breaking down this understanding of the law and establishing the prohibition of discrimination in association law.