It’s a first that should have a short half-life. Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) considers herself a feminist and a pioneer of gender equality – which is why her ministry has now just tried something new legislative area.
The generic feminine is used almost exclusively in the bill for the “Further development of restructuring and insolvency law (SanInsFoG)”. It is teeming with phrases such as employees, complainants, creditors, debtors and even “individual rights holders”.
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When asked whether other federal ministries also exclusively plan such legal texts with the generic female plan, government spokesman Steffen Seibert looks rather bewildered at Monday’s federal press conference. Nobody answers.
Two examples from the bill: “If the legal person (…) is threatened with insolvency (Article 18 of the Insolvency Code), the managers protect the interests of all creditors.”
Elsewhere it is emphasized: “The restructuring plan can also design the rights of the owners of restructuring claims on which they (…) guarantee, co-debtor or because of any other accepted liability or on objects of the assets of this company (internal security of a third party ). “
A spokesperson for Lambrecht emphasizes about the background of the experiment: “In general, when drafting legislation, care is taken to ensure that the language is technically correct and understandable. In addition, according to the common rules of procedure of the federal ministries, the draft bills must also express linguistically equality between women and men. ”
But the test balloon bursts quickly. And some in the grand coalition are wondering if such a thing is necessary in times of the Corona crisis.
CDU / CSU: SPD risks delay in legislative process
“I have no understanding for this kind of gender madness”, says for example the deputy chairman of the CDU / CSU faction, Thorsten Frei, when asked by the Tagesspiegel. “We urgently need this law so that our economy can better absorb the effects of COVID-19.” Still, the coalition partner SPD is now risking delays in the legislative process “because he believes he should be fighting fundamental ideological issues at this point.”
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He sincerely hopes “it will remain a one-time mistake”. Representative of the FDP group Stephan Thomae emphasizes that language must also be non-discriminatory in legal texts. “However, in view of the impending wave of insolvencies, the Restructuring and Bankruptcy Act is not the right setting for the farce-like coalition dispute over the generic use of feminine and masculine.”
Also criticism within the SPD
In the SPD itself, too, some Social Democrats get stuck in issues that for many citizens circumvent their own reality. Thomae says it is now important “that we provide small and medium-sized businesses that have been in economic difficulties due to the corona with appropriate tools so that they can reorganize themselves effectively and efficiently.”
The Greens support Minister Lambrecht of Justice
However, the support came from the Greens. Ulle Schauws, spokeswoman for women’s politics, emphasized: “It is time for the Union to finally settle into both the cabinet and the coalition and take a modern position. Criticizing an easily understandable bill written in feminine form for absurdly “the former so-called” habit “of the generic masculine (here all genders must be” included “).
That is why the Greens supported the Justice Minister. “Women and people of different sexes clearly belong in laws and practices.”
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The spokesman for the Minister of the Interior and Constitutional Affairs Horst Seehofer (CSU), who is responsible for coordinating laws, emphasizes that the law can hardly be constitutional. “Although the generic masculine form, ie the use of the masculine form of speech, is recognized for people of both masculine and feminine sex, the generic feminine form for use by feminine and masculine humans has not yet been scientifically recognized.”
According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the design must be adapted to the applicable regulations. “This is fully true regardless of whether a particular social situation is desired.” Especially with legal texts, the correctness of the language must be guaranteed, also with regard to legal formality.
Lambrecht’s department announces quite quickly: The design does not yet take into account “the results of the legal and language test”. In this regard, the draft will be revised before being presented to the federal cabinet.