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Bayreuth Festival – Accusations of sexism without legal consequences

The allegations of sexism at the world famous Bayreuth Festival in Germany have no legal ramifications. The prosecutor’s office dropped the proceedings on suspicion of sexual harassment. Attorney General Martin Diebold told dpa upon request, dpa reported Sunday morning.

According to Diebold, the district attorney’s office investigated claims by four employees that the proceedings were directed against a suspect and an unknown person.

“It was very minor harassment without any consequences at the slightest level of criminal responsibility,” Diebold said. Diebold continued, “The four aggrieved parties had no interest in a criminal prosecution and did not file a criminal complaint. Under the circumstances, there was no public interest in a criminal prosecution.”

The public prosecutor said at the time that the investigation officially began in the summer because of the media coverage.

#Metoo discussion just before the opening

Shortly before the start of the festival in July, women anonymously described sexually motivated assaults to a “Nordbayerischer Kurier”. They have been touched or forced to listen to vulgar remarks. The festival had — at the inopportune moment shortly before opening — the #Metoo discussion on its hands.

Festival president Katharina Wagner confirmed that she herself was affected. “Sexual innuendos, assaults sometimes in a way… yes,” she told dpa. “But I knew how to stand up for myself.” She added that she “acted very clearly”. She was “shocked” by the reports of assaults, insults and insults.

In the 2022 season, there were labor law consequences for a participant in this context, as announced by spokesperson Hubertus Herrmann on demand. After all shareholders had been “proactively” addressed by management about the matter, employees flagged and reported incidents involving a shareholder. “The actions of those affected were taken and discussed in detail in a timely manner, and the consequences were determined by the labor law for the responsible person after thorough clarification and consideration.” Hermann did not want to say what the nature of these consequences would be.

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New Code of Conduct

At a business meeting in December, the permanent staff was informed of this issue and again informed of the need to contact management directly or anonymously. “In addition, a code of conduct will be preemptively drawn up based on the Code of Conduct of the German Theater Association, training courses for directors are planned and the theme – as in the case of the 2022 festival – will be part of the occupational safety instructions.” (APA)