Monday , March 1 2021

In Berlin, the choir is reserved for boys

Justice in the case of discrimination gave reason to a prestigious institution.

Author: Thomas Wieder Posted today at 10h33, updated at 10h55

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Berlin Cathedral, March 25, 2019
Berlin Cathedral, March 25, 2019. Paul Zinken / AP

If his daughter were a boy, Susann Bräcklein probably wouldn't have gone to court. But now, his daughter is a girl, and the German lawyer felt that reason could not be invoked to justify the refusal of the state masters of the Berlin Cathedral (Staats- und Domchor Berlin) to host his child among his young singers, all boys. The Administrative Court ruled on Friday, August 16. And he considered that the choir had its rights, Article 5 of the Constitution ("Art, Science, Research and Teaching Are Free") Article 3 prevails here ("Men and women are equal in rights").

For the mother, the problem was the gender of her child – and only he. The proof? When she came into contact with the famous choir, founded at the end of XVe century, Prince Frederick II of Brandenburg, to find out if his nine-year-old daughter could be integrated, the answer was petty. "Your request cannot succeed. Never a girl will sing in a boy choir."

"Freedom of Art"

Before the court, the director of the institution, Kai-Uwe Jirka, explained that things were more complicated. He pointed out that the girl was finally auditioning. That the jury had found him a very nice voice. But that he did not adjust the seal to his choir.

Asked if the boy with the same stamp would be treated in the same way, the director assured that yes, recalling that 80% of the candidates who wanted to join his choir were rejected. But anatomical differences mean that even before they are warm, boys do not have the same voice as girls, he insisted.

Does that mean the girl has no chance of meeting the criteria she considers to be a young boy choir, then asked the judge. "No." said the director, but not without practicing some form "Violence" as in high-level sports, which he does not consider pedagogically appropriate.

The mother recalled that the choir, under the supervision of the Berlin University of the Arts, was receiving public money. And as such, he had a particular responsibility in combating gender discrimination. However, without prejudice to the "freedom of art" guaranteed by the Constitution, however, she considered it justice.

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