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Germany: 'Same-Sex Marriages Are Not A Goal Of This Government'

Angela_Merkel_(Tobias_Koch)Following Ireland's historic referendum on gay marriage, which saw a 2:1 margin of victory in favor of equality, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel has swiftly put a kibosh on rumors that Germany might soon follow suit and make marriage equality the law of the land.

Reuters reports:

"Today was an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that," [Angela Merkel's] spokesman Steffen Seibert said. "But same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government."

Once proud that their country was among the first in Europe to allow registered partnerships under the centre-left SPD-Greens government, many were perplexed Germany is now a laggard.

"Every country makes its own laws - some countries go one route while others go another," said Seibert, when asked about Ireland. "In Germany we'll take a path that suits Germany."

Germany did allow same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships starting 2001, becoming one of the first nations in Europe to do so. Today 75% of Germans support legalization of same-sex marriage. However, many believe it is the conservatives within Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats, that are the main obstacle to moving marriage equality legislation forward. 

Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a Social Democrat, lamented Germany's lagging behind on the issue of equality: 

"Expanding rights for registered partnerships is another step toward giving same-sex unions the same rights as marriages," said Maas. "We haven't reached the goal yet."

Maas blamed resistance on the right in Merkel's party. "Unfortunately that wasn't possible with the conservatives."


German Catholic Church to Allow Gay Employees to Enter Civil Unions

Fulda cathedralGermany's Roman Catholic Church has announced it will no longer automatically fire lay employees who divorce and remarry or enter into a civil union with someone of the same sex, Reunters reports:

"The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in," Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labor guidelines was announced on Tuesday.

Over two-thirds of Germany's 27 dioceses voted for the change, a Church spokesman said, indicating some opposition.

There is no worldwide Catholic policy on lay employees. German law allows churches to have their own labor rules that can override national guidelines.

But German courts have begun limiting the scope of Church labor laws and public opinion reacts badly when a Catholic hospital's head doctor is fired for remarrying or a teacher is sacked after her lesbian union is discovered.

Added Cologne Cardinal Rainer Woeliki: "The point is to limit the consequences of remarriage or a same-sex union to the most serious cases (that would) compromise the Church's integrity and credibility."


5 Things You Can't Miss in Berlin, Germany

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This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital gay travel magazine for iOS and Android devices from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

Berlin’s been on the receiving end of some backlash as of late. Having been the reigning king of cool for so long, it’s now even trendier to lash out against it, to claim Berlin is ‘over’ and to declare a dozen or so burgeoning the cities “the new Berlin!” But these headlines are mostly unfounded, and while we suspect travelers have grown bored and weary with media’s constant and sometimes hyperbolic praise of Berlin, they’ve not yet grown tired of the city itself. Step one foot in Berlin and it’s still every bit abuzz and edgy as it ever was. And we have a couple reasons why it might be time to check it out.

The first is Berlin Gay Pride (known locally as Christopher Street Day) takes place June 21-27, with festivities and events spread over the week.

7977616909_065eea412c_zThe other is a bit more hardcore: Folsom Europe the world’s biggest leather party (September 12-13). This two-day celebration of kink and fetishistic debauchery, where anything goes and nothing shocks, is a crowded, sweaty, festival of whips and chains, furries and slaves, collars and ball-gags, daddies and maids. And if that weren’t enough, it’s being held for the 12th year in Berlin, full of Germans who always manage to make any sexual act that much dirtier. So break out the nipple clamps and Gun Oil, because things are about to get messy.

 Here are our top 5 things we're loving in Berlin this spring.

1. Hotel 25 Hours: This new design boutique (think urban jungle chic) in the heart of Charlottenburg is a short walk to Schöeneberg. Judging by the hotel’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs that read ‘Please place aspirin in front of the door and leave,’ (along with 24 other options) they seem ready for the many hangovers that await them. The property has small but chic rooms, and has become one of the city’s best lifestyle hotels.

2. La Mano Verde: There’s currywurst on every corner in Berlin, so we wanted to steer you toward a new trend we’ve come to notice in this city that’s full of them: Berlin has recently become the vegan capital of Europe. And La Mano Verde is the original, serving an extraordinary vegan menu within walking distance to Schöeneberg. Their spaghetti de la mer is a must. 

3. Schwuz: This gay club is in a former beer beer factory at Rollbergstraße 26, and one of the nicest gay places to hang out in in Berlin. The crowd tends to be on the younger side. Ivery Friday is a themed night. 

4. Tiergarten: If it’s a warm and sunny day, the grassy knolls of the Tiergarten are Berlin’s sunbathing and cruising spot. Walk or bike up Hofjägeralle from Mitte towards the famed Victory statue column, and then take the first left trail into the woods before the column. Meander at a 45 degree angle into the park, heading towards the Lion Bridge. You’ll find gays spread in two areas, one predominantly clothed and one delightfully naked (well, delight is in the eye of the beholder). Cruising happens around the bridge by day and near the table tennis courts by night. Watch your wallet! See the Discodamaged.net Google Map for precise locations.

5. Schwules MuseumFor anybody with even a passing interest in LGBT history, the Schwule Museum which moved to Lützowstraße 73 in Mitte should definitely feature on their itinerary. Literally translating to “Gay Museum,” it is dedicated to preserving and celebrating all aspects of LGBT life through a variety of exhibitions, lectures and workshops hosted during the year. Its permanent exhibition is dedicated to 200 years of gay culture, while temporary exhibits honor gay icons such as Oscar Wilde and Marlene Dietrich.

Berlin wall

For even more insider recommendations in Berlin for other destinations around the globe and in the U.S., get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). 

And ManAboutWorld is now on the iPhone! Android coming soon. To download for the iPhone, click HERE.

Image credits: Top: Fabiana; Right: Lilas59; Bottom (Berlin Wall in the Newseum in Washington DC): John Pastor


Germanwings A320 Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Plane: Prosecutor

Recorder

Andreas Lubitz, identified as the co-pilot of the Germanwings A320 that crashed in the Alps on Tuesday morning, intentionally put the aircraft into a dive while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit, a Marseille prosecutor told reports today. Death was "sudden and immediate" for all aboard.

The Guardian reports on the press conference.

The co-pilot, a German citizen, was reportedly alive until the time of impact:

The first 20 minutes of conversation between the pilot and co-pilot was amicable, then the co-pilot took over when the pilot left to make a “natural call”.

At this point, the co-pilot accelerated the plane’s descent using the keys of the monitoring system. The prosecutor described it as a “voluntary” action.

In the remaining 10 minutes there are a number of appeals by the pilot to get access to the cockpit but there was no access, the prosecutor said. The pilot knocks on the door but there is not response. There is the sound of breathing from the co-pilot until impact.

 “The intention was to destroy this plane," said the prosecutor.

“He was breathing normally, he did not utter a single word...He had no reason to disable contact with other planes...We could hear the cries minutes before the plane crashed.”

“Absolute silence inside the cockpit. Nothing, no word during the last 10 minutes...I think he refused to open the door and turned the button to get down the plane. It was a voluntary action on the part of the co-pilot... He is not known as a terrorist, absolutely not...We do not have sentiment that there was panic (in cockpit) as he was breathing normally.”

The prosecutor declined to call the pilot's action a suicide. "When you commit suicide, you die alone. With 150 on the plane, I wouldn't call that suicide."

The most recent report from the BBC, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Germanwings A320 Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Plane: Prosecutor" »


Gay Teen's Family Attempts To Kidnap And Force Him Into A Straight Marriage: VIDEO

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At the age of 15 Nasser El-A made the decision to come out to his his conservative Lebanese family. Though Nasser and his family lived in relatively progressive Berlin at the time, many of his relatives thought of his revelation as being sacrilegious and took steps to “fix” him.

Years later, after multiple threats of physical violence and an instance in which he was doused in gasoline, Nasser fled his home in search of a place where he might find refuge. Ultimately, the teen found Papatya, an outreach group specializing in the housing needs of battered women and children. He stayed with the organization until being invited back home by his mother who assured his safety.

Upon returning home, however, Nasser’s father and two of his uncles kidnapped the teenager in an attempt to whisk him off to Lebanon and force him into an arranged marriage with a woman. Given Nasser's age, his kidnapping triggered an Interpol alert. The boy was found hours later by police authorities along the Romanian-Bulgarian border and brought back to Germany.

Though Nasser’s father and two uncles were unsuccessful in trying to forcibly convert the boy, the Berlin Criminal Court slapped each of the men with fines close to $2000 for the roles they played in the kidnapping.

"I'm not someone who hides away. I don't want to suppress my sexuality," Nasser said after the recent court ruling. "I have managed to bring this case to court. For me this chapter in my life is over now."

Listen to Nasser's full statements AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Teen's Family Attempts To Kidnap And Force Him Into A Straight Marriage: VIDEO" »


Gay Travel Dispatch of the Day: Carnival in Cologne, Germany

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Writes DJ Yabis on Instagram: "Yeehaw! Best spot to watch #CologneCarnival 🎉🎶🎉🎶 #asianfingers #notapresstriphashtag"

This new series features dispatches from LGBTQ travel writers, bloggers, and photographers who are on the road in far-flung places. If you know somebody who should be featured here, send us an email at travel@towleroad.com.

DJ Yabis is a travel writer and trip planner who has traveled to more than 100 European cities in the last three years. Currently he's in Cologne, Germany where there is an annual carnival underway, similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and he's been posting a few images and clips to Instagram.

Today marks the culmination of Germany's weeklong Carnival festivities highlighted by a long, raucous costumed parade, lots of drinking and singing. Carnival ends at midnight between Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. While the festival has religious origins it has a political dimension as well.

Bloomberg reports that this year the Rose Monday parade (which took place today) gave a nod to Charlie Hebdo:

A float featuring a clown watering a garden of pencils with the words “freedom to joke” led the traditional Rose Monday parade through the streets of the old town on Monday. Authorities previously rejected as too provocative a motif by the Koelnische Karnevals-Gesellschaft von 1945 e.V. with the clown blocking an Islamist terrorist’s gun barrel with a pencil.

DJ posted a few videos from the parade in Cologne, which travels through the old city. You can follow him on Instagram here or his blog here.

More, AFTER THE JUMP...

And find out more about Gay Cologne, here.

Continue reading "Gay Travel Dispatch of the Day: Carnival in Cologne, Germany" »


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