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Berlin Administrative Court: Girl is not allowed to sing in Berlin Boys Choir


The freedom of art prevails: a boys' choir is only allowed to take in boys, a Berlin court ruled. The mother of a nine-year-old girl had sued.

Girls have no legal claim to be accepted into a boys' choir. The Berlin administrative court has decided that and the lawsuit a mother from whose nine-year-old daughter in Berlin Staats- and Domchor wanted to sing - but not allowed. Because: Only boys sing in this choir.

The Administrative Court justified the decision with the right to freedom of art, which in this case outweighs the right to equality: "The alignment of the sound of a choir belongs to the freedom of art," said the presiding judge. Also, you see it as proven that there is a "boy's sound". The rejection is not linked to a biological sex.

An appeal is admitted, however, because this is a "pilot case": it is possible that the dispute will be dealt with in higher instances. If it was established that there was "indirect unequal treatment", the court made it clear that girls had worse access to the state and cathedral choirs than boys because of anatomical differences.

"Neither desirable nor pedagogically responsible"

In court, the University of the Arts, to which the chorus belongs denied that there was a case of discrimination. There were anatomical differences between girl and boy voices that led to "differentiated choral spaces". In principle, it is possible that a girl's voice could correspond to the intended "sound space" of a boys choir, said the head of the choir, Kai-Uwe Jirka, at the hearing. Due to anatomical differences and time-delayed physical development processes, however, this is usually achievable "only by force" and therefore "neither desirable nor pedagogically responsible".

The Staats- und Domchor was founded in 1465, today the ensemble belongs to the University of Arts in Berlin. The nine-year-old girl, who has already sung in many renowned choirs, had sought admission in the fall of 2018, but had been rejected - on the grounds that she lacked the appropriate conditions, namely a top talent. The choirmaster, in a statement the mother had solicited, had pointed out that gender issues did not play a role in the refusal: he would have rejected a boy with comparable artistic ability. In addition, the motivation of the girl is not enough.

The mother appeared during the trial as a lawyer for the plaintiff. She argued that the vocal differences between boys and girls are less serious than presented. She also demanded the same right to participate in state services for vocal training. This contradicted the choirmaster and said that the Berlin Cathedral choir was primarily not a training center, but an art ensemble. Therefore, he was responsible for the final decision on the admission of new singers.

Source: zeit

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