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Frankfurt Regional Court: Form selection with Mr./Mrs. is discriminatory

A person who feels that he or she belongs to neither the female nor the male gender, but has to choose between the two obligatory forms of address when buying a ticket, has his or her personal rights violated, according to the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court.

A non-binary person could therefore demand a gender-neutral address when purchasing a ticket. The mandatory specification of “Mr.” or “Ms.” violates persons with non-binary gender identity in their general personal rights.

The specific case involved the booking of a train ticket via the Internet, where there was only the choice of “Mr.” or “Ms.” when purchasing and registering. Neither was it possible to choose a gender-neutral salutation, nor to leave the choice completely open. Later communication also took place with these forms of address. The person of the non-binary gender addressed there as “Mr.” then sued for discrimination.

The district court partially upheld the claim because the plaintiff could not be forced to state one of the two predefined forms of address. She was allowed to demand to be addressed in a gender-neutral way.

The general right of personality also protects gender identity, as the court ruled with reference to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court. For the use of the offers the indication of the sex is also completely irrelevant. The defendant company could resort to other greetings such as “Guten Tag” or dispense with a gender-specific address altogether, the chamber found.

However, the Regional Court denied a claim for compensation due to discrimination under the General Equal Treatment Act, since the violation of personality was not so serious and also not malicious, but was only the “reflex of mass processing of standardized procedures”.

The judgment is not yet final. It may be appealed to the Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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