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German court rules women can participate in traditional fishing event

A German court has ruled that women cannot be excluded from a traditional Bavarian fishing event.

In the town of Memmingen, fishermen annually compete to catch the biggest fish in a stream on Fischertag, or fishermen’s day.

A 1931 statute had said that only men who had lived there for at least five years are allowed to participate to “preserve the centuries-old tradition”.

But the state court has ruled that the group organising the event must allow female members to participate after a complaint was filed in a district court.

Judges said the event’s stated aims of service to local history, culture, and environmental protection do not justify the unequal treatment of members.

The court also found that had effectively ceased to be a completely faithful reproduction of history for a number of years.

On Wednesday, judges threw out an appeal by the Fischertag organisers, who have indicated they may appeal to a federal court.

Both sides last month rejected the presiding judge’s suggestion that they reach an out-of-court settlement.

The organisers had argued that a majority of its delegates would have to approve a compromise, but had already twice rejected opening the event to women.

Fischertag occurs at end of summer in Memmingen, as people jump into the town’s stream to catch the largest trout, with the winner crowned “fishermen’s king”. The tradition is said to date back to the 16th century.

Reference