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.
Over 5.000 protesters marched through the streets of Berlin on Saturday demanding an end to the russian law that bans gay “propaganda”. Protesters walked several kilometres through Berlin city centre to the Russian embassy, where speeches were held.
The protest titled “Enough is enough” was organized by a group of friends and found huge support from Berlin’s gay scene and politicians. It was the biggest LGBT protest outside pride festivities for years.
Openly gay Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit on Friday had written a letter to his Moscow counterpart Sergey Sobyanin demanding an end to an atmosphere that created fear instead of tolerance. Berlin and Moscow are twinned.
Next Sunday people in Berlin and some other german citys will join in the global protest “To Russia with love“, with kiss-in protests planned in front of russian embassys and consulates.
On its German facebook site, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has taken a stance against the Russian law against gay “propaganda”. Moscow is threatening every person that discusses gay issues in public with fines or, in case of foreigners, with arrest and deportation.
The Vermont-based company which has been owned by the multinational Unilever corporation since 2006 published a picture with a cow that holds a protest sign with a distorted image of president Vladimir Putin. A byline reads: “Mr Putin, tear down this law”.
This phrase had been used at several german LGBT prides over the summer, reflecting the famous slogan by Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Anti-Putin protest at Berlin Pride 2013
It’s not the first time Ben & Jerry’s has supported gay rights. In 2009, it renamed the ice cream flavour Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby commemorating the first gay marriages in Vermont. Walt Freese, chief executive of Ben & Jerry’s, said at that time that the company has supported equal rights “from the very beginning of our 30 year history.”
A drag queen based in the German capital of Berlin has been sewing up her mouth publicly as a form of protest against anti-gay legislation in Russia.
Barbie Breakout has published a video of this hurtful protest on YouTube. In the 90-second film made for different languages, an offscreen voice slams Russian president Vladimir Putin for signing the law against homosexual “propaganda”. It concludes: “Don’t let them take your voice. Speak up! Open your mouth.”
The video has been taken off repeatedly from the video-sharing website, since the YouTube guidelines ban “graphic or gratuitous violence”. However, it has been re-uploaded in several languages and on different platforms since.
Barbie, who works as DJ in Berlins vibrant gay scene, said that the video was supposed to symbolize her speechlessness on the issue: “This is about human rights, which are abused in Russia.” Vladimir Putin’s government banned homosexual “propaganda” in June and cracked down on gay rights protests and organization.