The world-famous politician has announced he will step down as Berlin mayor in December – his successor could be another gay politician.
Klaus Wowereit announcing his resignation on Tuesday
The 60-year-old told a news conference on Tuesday that he will leave the office voluntarily in the middle of his third term and that he is proud of his “contribution to the positive development of this city.“
The Social Democrat has been mayor of Berlin for 13 years, making him Germany’s longest serving head of a regional government. He made worldwide headlines after coming-out as gay at a party conference just days before his first election in 2001. In his speech, he uttered the sentence “I am gay – and that’s a good thing”. This became one of the most repeated phrases in German.
The largest German gay publishing house, known internationally for the Spartacus Gay Guide, has filed an application for insolvency on Wednesday.
In a statement on its website, the Berlin based company claims that the sale of books has suffered over the last couple of years and it was too costly to adapt to the new digitial environment. As a result, the company was denied loans by their bank.
For the time being, Gmünder will continue routine operations like publishing the monthly gay magazin Männer or selling goods via its international online shop.
The company was founded in 1981 by Bruno Gmünder, who sold it three years ago, and specializes in LGBT fiction and non-fiction books in German as well as in English. Especially the Spartacus International Gay Guide and the erotic photo books are known around the world. Five book stores in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne also belong to the company portfolio.
Hitzlsperger after winning the german top league with his team VFB Stuttgart (photo: Stefan Baudy / flickr / cc by-sa 2.0)
The German football player Thomas Hitzlsperger has announced that he is gay on Wednesday, making him one of the most high-profile footballers to do so. In an interview with the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, the 31-year-old said he wanted to “take the discussion around professional athletes and homosexuality forward”.
After years of lobbying Berlin finally has a street to honour Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, maybe the first gay rights pioneer of the world. On Tuesday, a part of Einem Street was officially renamed to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Street.
Photo: Jörg Steinert / LSVD
Karl von Einem was Prussian war minister from 1903 until 1909. He demanded a prosecution of homosexual men and later supported the Nazis. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs on the other hand is seen as a pioneer of gay rights in 19th century Germany. He campaigned for the legalisation of homosexuality until his death in 1895.
For administrative reasons, only the part of the street that is located in the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg was renamed, while the city centre district still has to go through a process of public participation. This is expected to wrap up in a couple of months.
Munich, Bremen and Hanover already have streets or places named after Ulrichs. The new street in Berlin is situated close to the gay scene around the Nollendorfplatz. Ulrichs was a forerunner to the more famous sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, who already has a street named after him: The Magnus Hirschfeld Ufer, a bank on the river Spree opposite the German Chancellery where his Institute for Sexual Research once stood.
Joachim Gauck (Photo: Energie Agentur NRW / cc by 2.0)
German president Joachim Gauck will not visit the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014. As magazine “Der Spiegel” reports, his office already told russian officials of this decision in the last week. According to the report, human rights abuses and the repression of the opposition in Russia were his reasons, with “Der Spiegel” mentioning the recent anti-gay laws in Russia.
But the magazine gives no direct quote from Gauck – and his office on Sunday denied a boycott, also stating that the previous president did not visit the Winter Olympics in Vancouver either. German chancellor Angela Merkel had previously spoken out against a boycott of the Olympics.
Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Horst Seehofer (CSU)
The leaders of the three political parties forming a new grand coalition government in Germany on Wednesday signed a preliminary agreement that gay rights activists call “disapointing”.
The conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed upon a chapter entitled “Respect Sexual Identity”. However, it mainly includes non-binding statements of intent. It does not include marriage equality or further equalization of the rights of gay domestic partners with heterosexual spouses.
Wanja Kilber, a gay activist from german-russian LGBT group Quarteera, has used a speech from Yelena Mizulina in Leipzig last Saturday to protest her homophobic stance.
Kilber went to the stage – with artificial blood on his hands and a rainbow flag – and shouted in Russian and German: “Mizulina has the blood of young gays, lesbians and transsexuals on her hands”. He was then removed by security, whilst the unshaken author of the russian law against “gay propaganda” continued her speech.
Wanja Kilber, Photo: Norbert Blech
Mizulina had visited the conference by right-wing magazine “Compact” together with other homophobes from Russia and France. Speakers included Beatrice Bourges, who radicalized the french movement against gay marriage.
Yelena Mizulina, author of the nationwide law against “gay propaganda” in Russia, is set to join other anti-gay campaigners from Russia and France at a conference in Leipzig, Germany this Saturday.
The Conference, titled “For the Future of the Family”, is organized by right-wing conspiracy magazine Compact in cooperation with the french-russian think tank Institut de la Démocratie et de la Coopération based in Moscow, Paris and New York. It already held a congress with Mizulina in France and supported the national movement against gay marriage, Manif pour touts.
Béatrice Bourges, one of the most influential spokespersons of the “Manif”-movement, who later got thrown out of the group because of her violent rhetoric, is also set to speak in Germany amongst other anti-gay and islamophobic speakers.
In the German national elections on Sunday chancellor Angela Merkel won a decisive victory but failed to reach an overall majority.
Final results give Merkel’s conservative party 311 out of 630 seats in the Bundestag. The CDU/CSU alliance now has to form a coalition government with either the Social Democrats (192 seats) or the Greens (63 seats). The Left Party gained 64 seats, but all other parties have ruled out working with the socialists. The election has consequences for some prominent gay politicians.
Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out a joint adoption law for gay and lesbian couples. In a Q&A session with possible voters on public broadcasting channel ARD, Merkel on Monday said that she was against discrimination: “People in same sex relationships also live values.”
But asked about her opposition on gay adoption by a gay man in the audience, Merkel said she was “unsure” about giving gays and lesbians the right to adopt, stating that she herself would not bring a motion forward in this matter.