Last week, the Assemblée Nationale passed the draft law on the ban of the word “race” in French legislation. The elimination of this term has been advocated several times over the past decade by the Left, and by François Hollande in March 2012 during the electoral campaign, affirming that “there is no room for race in the Republic”. To date, the word “race” and its derivatives appear in fifty-nine legal provisions. Now, it is up to the Senate, the upper house of the French parliament, to deliberate and have the last word. In Germany, similar actions have been taking place as well. In 2011 the German leftist party Die Linke submitted a draft law to replace “race” by “ethnicity”. This initiative was partly inspired by the two Policy Papers (2009 and 2010) of the German Institute for Human Rights calling for a removal of the word “race”. Lately, banning “race” from the legal order has been gaining popularity among some non-discrimination scholars as well.
With respect to the French context, it is essential to recall the judgment of the Conseil Constitutionnel from 2007 on the use of racial and ethnic statistics. The Conseil ruled the use of ethnic and racial data for purposes of surveys or studies on diversity of origins, discrimination and integration issues as unconstitutional. The use of such data would violate Article 1 of the French Constitution: “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organized on a decentralized basis.” The legal situation in Germany is markedly different: here, racial and ethnic data collection is permitted and regulated in the Federal Data Protection Act, albeit under strict conditions ...Zum vollständigen Artikel