Update 20.03.2024

How can I protect my rights in Germany?

In Germany, every person is free to live out their sexual orientation and identity, and the law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, non-binary, pansexual, poly sexual, intersex and asexual individuals, i.e. the LGBTQIA+ community. Nevertheless, members of this community still face hostility and discrimination from some people in the society. Find out more about your rights and how to fight discrimination.

What do I need to know?

What does LGBTQIA+ or queer mean?

LGBTQIA+ (or LGBT) is an English abbreviation for various gender identities and sexual identities– these identities are self-definitions, i.e. they are not determined by the outside world.

In Germany, the German abbreviation, LSBTTIQ ("lesbisch, schwul, bisexuell, transgender, transsexuell, intersexuell, queer") is often used.

Lesbians are women or people who identify as feminine in any way who are attracted to women or people who identify as feminine in any way. Gays are men or people who identify as masculine in any way, who are attracted to men or people who identify as masculine in any way.

People whose gender identity does not correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth are referred to as trans*/transgender/transident.

Inter*/intersex people are people with physical gender characteristics that cannot be clearly categorised as exclusively "male" or "female".

Asexual people have little to no interest in sexual acts.

Being non-binary means feeling neither exclusively male nor female but beyond traditional gender categorisations. This can have different effects; the person may identify as agender (no gender), bigender (simultaneously "male" and "female"), gender-fluid (gender identity is always changing) or genderqueer (has nothing to do with "masculinity" or "femininity").

The plus in LGBTQIA+ affirms that there are other sexual and gender identities.

Queer is often used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity, sexual identity or gender expression does not conform to society's traditional expectations. People who do not clearly identify as heterosexual or cisgender use the term queer for self-identification. (Cisgender people are people who live or feel comfortable and identify with the gender they were assigned at birth). It is important to note that being queer can be interpreted differently by different people, so it is better to ask how someone understands the term for themselves respectfully.

In German, "FLINTA*" is the abbreviation for women, lesbians, inter*, non-binary/enby, trans*, agender people and is used as an umbrella term including various forms of self- identification. The asterisk at the end stands for all forms of self-identification that are not explicitly mentioned here. Although the term "lesbian" is not a separate gender, lesbians are mentioned separately in the term "FLINTA to emphasise that in the patriarchal system, heterosexuality is considered the norm and lesbian sexuality is suppressed.

You can look up other terms in the "Queer Lexicon". There you will also find further explanations of terms and various brochures.

What laws protect me and what rights do I have as a queer person in Germany?

Your sexual orientation and identity are accepted and respected by the state. You are entitled to express your gender and sexual identity and to be exactly as you are. As an adult, no matter how you self-identity, you have the right to love and live with another consenting adult regardless of how they self-identity.

This, however, wasn’t always the case: Homosexuality was banned in Germany for many centuries, and the LGBTQIA+ were prosecuted. The prohibition was finally abolished in 1994, although the corresponding law (§175 of the Criminal Code) was hardly enforced even before this date.

Since 1 October 2017, same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Germany. Before that, it was only possible to enter into a so-called "civil partnership" (“Lebenspartnerschaft”). Legally,  civil partnership was almost equivalent to marriage. Since 1 October 2017, people who have entered a civil partnership can convert it into a marriage. You can do so at your local registry office. You will find more information in German at and can read further about registering a marriage in Germany in our chapter, "Marriage".

If you do not identify with the gender to which you were assigned at birth, you have the right in Germany to have your documents changed and your body altered. You can change from male to female or female to male, i.e. change your physical and/or sexual characteristics. The medical process - hormonal treatment and sometimes surgery - usually takes several months. Since 2011, you can have your gender changed in official documents without having undergone or planning a gender reassignment. However, in order to change your gender entry and name, you must undergo psychological assessments and obtain an authorisation from the court. The new self-determination law is intended to simplify the process – however, the law has not yet been introduced (as of February 2024).

In many countries, children without clear female or male sexual characteristics are nevertheless assigned a gender at birth. However, the child might not be able to identify with the assigned gender later on. Since 2013, parents in Germany no longer have to assign a gender to their children on their birth certificate.

If you would like to find out more about asylum and residence for LGBTQIA+ refugees, visit our chapter on the topic.

What can I do against discrimination?

According to some studies, the members of the LGBTQIA+ community are accepted by the majority of the population in Germany. But many LGBTQIA+ individuals still experience hostility and discrimination when they "come out". According to the law, you can take legal actions against the offenders: If someone harasses you or discriminate against you because of your sexual orientation or sexual identity, you can contact the Anti-discrimination Agency.

The "General Equal Treatment Act" ("Allgemeine Gleichbehandlungsgesetz") which protects individuals against discriminations they may face because of their skin colour, country of origin, sex, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation/sexual identity. If you are mistreated or discriminated against during job-seeking, at work or in a restaurant, club, shopping centre, bank, or during flat-hunting, you can contact the Anti-discrimination Agency ("Antidiskriminierungsstelle"). They will check the case, see if you can take legal actions against the perpetrator and further advise you about your options. You can learn more in our chapter “Discrimination”.

You can reach the Anti-discrimination Agency Mondays to Thursdays (09:00-15:00) at 0800-546 546 5, write to or fill out their contact form. Their staff speak German, English and Arabic. You can also search for one of the counselling centres of the Anti-discrimination Agency in your area.

Please note: If you face verbal, physical or sexual assault, you can always call the police at 110In order to combat hate crimes against queer people, some cities and federal states have appointed contact persons in the police departments, including Hamburg, Hannover, Hesse, Berlin, Cologne, Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony, etc. The best way to find out more is to contact the police station in your city or federal state.


Where can I seek advice and support?

There are many counselling centres for the LGBTQIA+ community in Germany. They can help you with all sorts of questions in the areas of love, sex, health, discrimination, coming out, etc.

You can, for example, find psychological counselling opportunities nearby on the website of the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex and Queer People (VLSP).

If you are in Berlin, you can contact the staff of GLADT e.V. in German, English, Turkish, Farsi, Kurdish Sorani und Danish at 030 – 587 684 9300 or email Counselling can also be organised in another language. When requesting counselling, please inform the staff of your needs so that an interpreter can be provided. You can find counselling centres specifically designated for LGBTQIA+ refugees on the website.

If you are between 18 and 27 years old, you can also reach out to the staff of lambda-peersupport. They offer personal support as well as group support. The staff speak German and English.

To combat hate crimes against queer people, some cities and federal states have appointed contact persons in the police departments, including Hamburg, Hannover, Hesse, Berlin, Cologne, Brandenburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony, etc. The best way to find out more is to contact the police station in your city or federal state.

You can also become a member of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), which is committed to the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in Germany.

Where can I meet other LGBTQIA+ people?

In larger cities, there are various bars, clubs and other LGBTQIA+ gathering places. You can find places where other LGBTQIA+ people meet and socialise in your city at Plus, many counselling centres organise open meetings and recreational activities for LGBTQIA+ individuals. To find a counselling centre in your area, check section “Where can I seek advice and support?”.

At least once a year, many larger cities host a so-called Gay Pride or Christopher Street Day festival (CSD), where numerous LGBTQIA+ individuals and also others gather for a street party–you can find the relevant dates on


How can I support the LGBTQIA+ community?

Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community is an ongoing endeavour. You can make a positive contribution by regularly informing yourself and actively participating in the promotion of inclusion:

  • Learning and understanding: educate yourself on the various LGBTQIA+ issues to develop a better understanding of the diverse identities and challenges in the community. This is how prejudices can be broken down and empathy develops.
  • Respect and acceptance: Respect the identities and experiences of people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Accept their stories and lifestyles without prejudice or judgement.
  • Self-reflection: Reflect on your own beliefs and prejudices. Ask yourself if there are things you could better understand or change to develop a more inclusive and supportive mindset.
  • Family and social support: If you have family members or friends who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, show them your support and acceptance. Be an ally in your personal environment.
  • Speak out against discrimination: If you witness discrimination or prejudice against LGBTQIA+ individuals, take active steps to prevent it. Stand up for justice and equal treatment.
  • Respectful language: Use respectful and inclusive language. This includes using the correct pronouns. If you are unsure, politely ask for the preferred pronouns.
  • Support queer-friendly organisations and businesses: Donate money or time to organisations that support the rights and well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community, for instance, local non-profit organisations, activist groups or national/international organisations. You can also support businesses and companies run by LGBTQIA+ people– find some of these businesses on the Everywhereisqueer website by searching for a location of your choice on the interactive world map. The address and contact information of the businesses will then be displayed on the map.
  • Show solidarity: Show solidarity by attending LGBTQIA+ events such as pride parades or events. This can help create a supportive environment.
  • Share resources: Share information, articles or resources that promote understanding of LGBTQIA+ issues. Social media is a good platform to spread awareness.
  • Listen and learn: Listen to and learn from the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people. Respect their perspectives and use the opportunity to deepen your understanding.


Do not hesitate to seek help if you face discrimination or hostility. The German law is on your side and will protect you against discrimination, hatred and violence. If you need help, contact the Anti-discrimination Agency or a counselling centre for queer people if you need support.

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