European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Germany: ‘We are not Jewish’ human rights complaint set for judgement

Judges are set to reveal their decision in a case against Germany brought by a Frankfurt couple, who claim to have been designated wrongly as Jewish.

The European Court of Human Rights judgement in the complaint Perelman v. Germany (application no. 32745/17) will be made known on 6 July.

The applicants, Bluma and Alain Perelman, are French nationals who were born in 1947 and live in Frankfurt/Main (Germany). The case concerns their complaint that they were considered members of the Frankfurt Jewish community without their consent.

When the applicants moved to Frankfurt in 2002, they registered their residence with the local authorities. The registration form included a field about their religion and both indicated ‘Mosaic.’

A few months later the applicants received a letter from the Frankfurt Jewish community welcoming them as new members. They opposed membership. As the community did not accept their objection, the applicants, as a precautionary measure, resigned their membership with effect from the end of October 2003.

The Frankfurt tax office levied a church tax on their income for the period from November 2002 to October 2003.

The applicants brought an action to obtain a declaration that they had not been members of the Jewish community during that time.

In a first judgment the Federal Administrative Court declared that, in the public sphere, the applicants’ membership could not have legal effect. Following a constitutional complaint of the Jewish community, the Federal Constitutional Court quashed the judgment and remitted the case to the Federal Administrative Court which, in a second judgment, dismissed the applicants’ claim.

Before the applicants lodged their application with the European Court they filed a constitutional complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court which is still pending.

Relying on Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention, the applicants complain that the domestic courts’ acknowledgement of their membership of the Jewish community of Frankfurt was not based on their consent because they had not declared their willingness to join the Frankfurt Jewish community.

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