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Gays Face Backlash in Germany

Germany

Conservatives campaign to stop gay sex education amid celebrations for a gay soccer player's coming out.

BY JASON OVERDORF / GlobalPost

BERLIN, Germany — German athletes will sport rainbow-colored uniforms at the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month in a move widely interpreted as a protest against Russia’s crackdown against gay rights.

Although some see it as part of the country’s redoubled efforts to be perceived as a leader in gay rights following Moscow’s recent enactment of an anti-gay law, the recent coming-out of a gay German soccer player has drawn new attention to problems that still face gays and lesbians at home, which suggest the real picture is more complex.

T_hitzlspergerWhen former professional player Thomas Hitzelsperger announced that he was gay last week, he was almost universally celebrated in the German press.

But rumors persisted that his coach dissuaded him from making the announcement until he retired — while the European championships were underway — suggesting that German soccer fans, at least, haven’t fully accepted the idea of gay players.

“The rejoicing sounded suspiciously self-serving and smug,” Der Spiegel observed. “'We are so amazingly liberal that we can even get excited about a gay professional football player,' the message seemed to be.”

James Gardner, a gay American living in Berlin with his German husband, sees cynical politics in the new enthusiasm for gay rights.

“The whole issue of homosexuality is so politicized right now,” he says. "We have this Cold War happening on the gay front," he says, referring to the unspoken divides in Germany on homosexuality, "this Cold Gay War.”

Moves by the Catholic Church in the state of Baden-Würtenburg to ban sex-education classes from teaching students about homosexuality — even though there’s no sign the public school system will be teaching anything of the kind — suggest that in Germany, as in the US, ordinary people remain deeply divided over the issue, says Carolyn Gammon, a Canadian lesbian married to a German woman.

“I'd like to say that it's two steps forward, one step back,” she says. “But it's more like 1.1 steps forward, one step back.”

Recent polls suggest 65 percent of Germans favor full equality for homosexuals, according to Renate Rampf, spokeswoman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, the country's largest non-profit gay rights organization.

That means one in every three Germans believes gays and lesbians aren’t entitled to equal treatment, which leaves fertile ground for evangelical Christians and Catholics who vehemently oppose certain rights for homosexuals.

Merkel“Even Chancellor [Merkel] has said that she has a bad feeling when it comes to the issue of gays adopting children,” Rampf said in an email.

Germany recognized domestic partnerships for gays and lesbians in 2001. Three years later, gay and lesbian couples in legal partnerships were allowed to adopt children.

But some less contentious rights — such as tax equality for same-sex partnerships and heterosexual marriages — have been slow in coming. And numerous attempts to legalize gay marriage have failed to pass in successive parliaments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union.

Gays and lesbians confront similar contradictions in daily life.

When Gardner was an openly gay student at an elite private school, he says, his peers accepted his sexuality.

But Gammon says even in her liberal Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg, “schwule” or “gay” is the most common insult in her son's schoolyard.

“Our child is now going through this system,” she says, “and he's never had a single thing that's gay-positive.”


Intersex Children And The Battle Over Their Gender

The New Yorker recently published an article entitled "A New Era For Intersex Rights" that follows Jim Ambrose (pictured), a man who was born with ambiguous sex organs. His parents decided to surgically remove his organ and testes when he was still a newborn and began raising him as a girl named Kristi.

JimHe started taking female hormones at age 12 and planned to have a vaginoplasty at age 18, but he also felt depressed and suicidal. He didn't know why until he discovered the circumstances of his birth — he was born with a condition that inhibited his testosterone development. Gradually, he began taking testosterone, had his breasts removed and began living as Jim.

Approximately one in every 2,000 children is born intersex, that is with a "reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that doesn’t seem to fit typical definitions of male or female." These children are not necessarily transgender "as their status is not related to their gender identity" but moreso to their biological makeup.

New Yorker writer Emily Greenhouse states:

"Today, we pride ourselves on letting children defy antiquated gender stereotypes. Boys can now have dolls, and girls Erector sets; we agree that the salient differences between genders are social constructs, and give little leeway to those who insinuate that, say, women have less aptitude for science and engineering.

Yet, even as many fight against the persistence of rigid gender norms, we still separate the sexes as soon as kids are old enough to be potty-trained; when gym class arrives and locker rooms are needed, we push the boys and girls even farther apart. For all the progress that has followed from the enlightened credo that gender is but a construct, we keep hesitating at the notion that sex, too, does not obey strict binaries.

Some people aren’t just pushing away from prototypes of sinewy maleness or delicate femaleness; they were born with bodies that don’t conform to the “M” or the “F” boxes on the census form. There are children, in other words, whose genes have not defined for them which bathroom to use, or where to change for gym class; babies can be born with XX chromosomes in certain cells, and XY chromosomes in others—mosaic genetics."

Keep reading and watch a short documentary AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Intersex Children And The Battle Over Their Gender" »


Straight Celebs Kiss to Fight Homophobia in German GQ: VIDEO

Mund2

A new campaign called "mundpropaganda" ("word of mouth") has been launched by German GQ featuring straight German celebrities locking lips in the name of fighting homophobia. The campaign appears in the magazine's January issue.

Some of the couples featured are actors Ken Duken and Kostya Ullman (above), and Olympic volleyball players Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann (below), along with seven other German celebs.

Check out pianist Johannes Strate and rock musician Jakob Sinn (of the band Revolverheld) along with a behind-the-scenes video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Mund1

Continue reading "Straight Celebs Kiss to Fight Homophobia in German GQ: VIDEO" »


German President Boycotts Sochi Olympics Over Russia's Human Rights Violations

German President Joachim Gauck is the first world leader to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Guardian reports:

GauckAccording to German weekly Der Spiegel, Joachim Gauck last week informed the Kremlin of his decision, which is understood to be a response to the Russian government's violations of human rights and harrassment of the opposition.

Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor who played a key part in the East German protest movement before the fall of the Berlin Wall, has declined any official visits to Russia since coming to office in March 2012 and repeatedly criticised the country's "deficit of rule of law" and "air of imperialism".

In June, a scheduled meeting between Gauck and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was cancelled – supposedly because of clashing schedules. Gauck had visited both the Olympics and the Paralympics in London last summer.


'Blood-Stained' Activist Disrupts Speech by Author of Russia's Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO

Mizulina

An activist in Germany disrupted a speech by Russian MP Elena Mizulina, author of Russia's law banning 'gay propaganda' during a speech she gave on Saturday in Leipzig, Germany for the right-wing magazine Compact.

Activist Wanja Kilber of the German-Russian LGBT group Quarteera was identified as the activist holding a rainbow flag with blood-stained hands in front of the stage.

Queer Russia reports: Elena_mizulina

In her twitter Mizulina wrote that she and her colleagues had to “force their way through the aggressive crowd” to the conference center, while police did not hold the protesters back. As a result, Mizulina claims she got minor injuries and stressed that Russian LGBT people are more “cultured”, as PiterTV reports.

During her speech, which was muffled by the protesters inside and outside the building, Mizulina claimed she came to Europe to “defend democracy”, that it’s time to stop acting indulgently to the sexual minorities and that an “ideologic war” against Russia is unleashed because of a “small insignificant law”, meaning the Russian gay propaganda to minors ban law.

Also Mizulina claimed that not a single LGBT activist in Russia have suffered from violence during public protests because police have always protected them. The statement was met with “It’s a lie!” shouts from the audience, as it contradicts with media reports of violence and injuries journalist Elena Kostyuchenko have suffered from the homophobic attack back in 2011 at Moscow pride attempt, and many others alike.

Said Kilber to QR: “Mizulina has blood of young gays and lesbians on her hands.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Blood-Stained' Activist Disrupts Speech by Author of Russia's Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO" »


News: Nepal, Matt Bomer, Germany, Michigan

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6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The father of the man who went on a shooting spree at LAX yesterday called police about his son around the same time the shootings actually took place.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The former owner of a gay bar that was badly damaged in a fire has been charged with arson.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Bernhard Goetz has been arrested for trying to sell marijuana to an undercover NYC cop.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Two kidnapped French journalists have been killed in Mali.

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6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi New law in Germany introduces a third sex option for those born with both male and female characteristics. They reason: "The council had argued, among other things, that many people born with both sex characteristics who were operated on as children say they wouldn't have consented to the surgery."

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Teens talk about the teen problem on Facebook.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Britney Spears promotes her new single "Perfume" on Snapchat.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi There's a good chance that anti-discrimination laws could become a reality in Holland, Michigan if two anti-gay council members are defeated in Tuesday's election.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The family of jailed Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova claims she is now missing.


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