A German man has launched legal action against his local council over “female-only” parking spaces which have been installed in a public car park after a woman was sexually assaulted nearby.
Dominik Bayer claims the reserved spots discriminate against both men and women as he believes they suggest women ‘need looking after’ and contravene Germany’s General Act on Equal Treatment.
The designated “women-only” spots were installed in a public car park in the Bavarian town of Eichstätt, after a woman was attacked in 2016.
The car park is close to a nursing home, where female workers often begin and finish their shifts early in the morning and late at night.
The new car spaces are located close to entrances and exists, and are well lit to make parking there safer.
The town’s legal officer, Hans Bittl, said the spots are only a suggestion to encourage men to leave them free for women, and that any man who parks in one will not be prosecuted.
What the law says
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Discrimination Claims, said in that in Australia, female-only car spaces might not be discriminatory.
“Normally, if a council or a company wants to make something “women only” or “men only”, they would have to apply for a special exemption, which happens in some cases,” he said.
“That’s how some gyms are allowed to cater only to women, and some gay clubs and bars are allowed to ban women or heterosexual patrons.
“But in the case of ‘women-only’ car spaces, that’s a public safety issue, and there are already exemptions in the Act that allow discrimination when it comes to workplace health and safety and public safety.”
Mr Hefferan said discrimination happens when someone is treated adversely, or less favourably, than someone else, on the basis of an attribute like their race, skin colour, sex or gender.
“The problem Mr Bayer has with his case, is that the local council in Germany has said that the female-only spots are just a suggestion, and if he parks there, he won’t get a ticket – so he’s not being treated adversely at all,” he said.
Germany’s federal anti-discrimination agency confirmed female parking spaces do not violate equality laws, and are common in supermarkets and shopping centres.
Are extra-wide parking spaces for women ‘sexist’?
In the meantime, extra wide parking bays designed for women who can’t reverse park, have caused a sexism row in China.
The larger spots, which are 50 percent bigger than a regular parking bay, are aimed at women who “have trouble reversing”.
They are outlined with pink paint, and feature a pink skirt-wearing figure in the middle.
Similar “women-only” parking bays have also been introduced in South Korea.
The spots there are wider and longer than the country’s standard bays, and they are also marked with pink outlines.
If you have experienced discrimination based on your sex, gender or sexual orientation, you may be entitled to compensation.
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