According to the will of a narrow parliamentary majority, the state parliament, state government, authorities, schools and universities in Thuringia should not change their public communication. The opposition CDU parliamentary group pushed through this demand with a controversial application, which was supported by the AfD, which was monitored in Thuringia by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the citizens for Thuringia. The CDU motion, which begins with “Gender? No thanks” was accepted after a roll-call vote late Thursday evening.

The MPs cast 74 votes, 38 for the motion and 36 against. AfD MP Corinna Herold announced before the vote that her parliamentary group would support the CDU motion.

According to dpa information, the votes against the use of gender language came exclusively from the CDU and AfD and the four members of the group of citizens for Thuringia, three of whom are ex-AfD members. Herold called gender a “language abuse”. Ute Bergner, spokeswoman for the group Bürger für Thüringen, described it as “nonsensical” and a “non-culture”.

Left-wing deputy Christian Schaft accused the CDU of using its motion against the use of gender-neutral language to promote public sentiment and a right-wing culture war “as one would otherwise expect from the AfD group”. Green MP Laura Wahl explained: “The cardinal mistake that the CDU parliamentary group unfortunately makes again and again is that they think they can win voters back from the AfD by taking over AfD positions.” In doing so, they are strengthening themselves only the original, Wahl said.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has so far categorically ruled out any cooperation between his party and the AfD. “With me there will be a firewall to the AfD,” Merz said before he was elected party leader. He later reiterated that statement. At the end of 2021, Merz told the “Spiegel”: “The state associations, especially in the east, get a crystal-clear message from us: If any of us raises your hand to work with the AfD, then there will be a party exclusion procedure the next day.”

Criticism also came from the Education and Science Union (GEW). The University of Jena stated that it would stick to its recommendation on gender-fair language.

Everyone could talk as they wanted, explained CDU faction leader Mario Voigt. “In our public institutions, however, there should be a clear and understandable German language.” Deputy parliamentary group leader Christoph Zippel called on the state government and state parliament administration to implement the decision as soon as possible.

The FDP group did not take part in the vote, a spokesman confirmed on Friday. The governing coalition of Left, SPD and Greens, which heavily criticized the motion, does not have its own majority in Parliament.

Red-Red-Green had tried in vain to find a compromise with a “self-commitment to respectful communication” with a counter-motion. The state parliament decision was a “slap in the face to all people who try to act inclusively and not to exclude anyone linguistically,” explained the GEW. He represents a disregard for people who do not want to be referred to with the masculine form, and is a paternalism for all employees in the education system and in the state service.

The CDU MP Zippel justified his parliamentary group’s motion with the fact that, according to various surveys, a majority of people in Germany reject the “gender language”, some of them perceive it as paternalistic. Gender language is “an elite project of a small minority,” according to Zippel. SPD MP Cornelia Klisch described gender-sensitive language as a “legitimate means of expressing gender equality”. The CDU fails to recognize that language is constantly evolving.

State Chancellery Minister Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff (left) said that the state government adheres to the rules that are set, among other things, by equality laws or case law. According to Hoff, gender-fair language is like the quota for women. “It must be fought for.”

Gendering is about a gender-conscious use of language that is intended to express the equal treatment of all genders and identities. Gender asterisks, colons, underscores or short pauses in speech are used, among other things.