Anne Klein: Champion of Women’s Rights and Same-Sex Lifestyles
Anne Klein, born 2 March 1950, Körprich (Saarland), died 23 April 2011, Berlin
As lawyer and politician, Anne Klein has dedicated her life to the concerns and demands of the feminist and woman’s movement. After taking her Abitur exams at Dillingen Realgymnasium, she studied first psychology, then law at Saarbrücken University. In 1975, she moved to Berlin for her legal clerkship. There she became involved with the Berlin women’s movement and co-founded Berlin’s first women’s shelter. As she believed that women needed the support of female lawyers, she also co-founded the first feminist legal aid centre, located in the Kreuzberg district. In 1978, after passing her bar exam, she founded Berlin’s first law office specialising on women’s rights.
In 1983, when the Green Party first entered the Bundestag, Anne Klein became active in parliament, working as an aide to the Green Party group’s task force on “Women, Anti-Discrimination, and Social Issues.” With other women she co-authored the Green Party’s first draft of an antidiscrimination bill that, some years later and in revised form, was submitted to parliament. Throughout these activities Anne Klein’s paramount aim was to make feminist policies part of Green politics and to support politically active women.
On 15 March 1989, under the first red-green coalition government in the state of Berlin, she was elected Senator for Youth, Women, and Families as an independent backed by Berlin’s Green Party. In this role, she introduced a number of fundamental reforms, strengthening the rights of women and same-sex couples. She also created a department for same-sex lifestyles, a novelty at the time; gave financial support to Wildwasser, an initiative that supports sexually-abused girls; and promoted the creation of crisis centres for women and girls, as well as for victims of human trafficking. She also ensured that those seeking safe shelter in women’s crisis centres no longer had to pay for staying there. Furthermore she supported the elimination of all forms of legal or social discrimination against prostitutes. It is thanks to Anne Klein’s efforts that Berlin’s first antidiscrimination bill was passed.
After the red-green coalition government fell apart in November 1990, Anne Klein worked once again as a lawyer. She was active in a number of professional organisations: She served as a board member of Berlin’s bar association; between June 1999 and December 2006 she was president of the Berlin lawyers’ pension’s and benefits organisation and, in this role, secured pension entitlements for surviving dependents of same-sex unions. For many years she was a member of the penal law commission of the German Women Lawyers Association, and in summer 2006 she was elected vice president of Anwaltsunion Deutschland, a German lawyers’ association. Up until her death she worked as a lawyer and notary public in Berlin.
She died in April 2011 of cancer.