German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has warned against the stigmatization of gay men in relation to an ongoing outbreak of monkeypox.
It must be prevented “that people who are homosexual and have sex with men are stigmatized,” Lauterbach told public broadcaster ZDF. “It is important to say that it can affect anyone.”
According to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for disease control, monkeypox is transmitted through close physical contact. There has been a notable amount of infections among men who had sexual contact with other men.
The comments come after Holger Wicht, a spokesman for the German AIDS charity, said on a podcast that the term “risk group” was often understood to mean that gay men pose a particular risk, while it is actually meant to indicate a risk of becoming infected.
However, Wicht also told the news portal T-Online: “Mr Lauterbach is making a recognisable effort not to stigmatise.”
Sven Lehmann, the German government’s first-ever commissioner for queer affairs, told the newspapers of the Funke media group that it was a fallacy “that gay or bisexual men are intrinsically more at risk – the virus knows no sexual orientation.”
“Scaremongering and stigmatization” must be avoided at all costs, he said.
Lauterbach also pointed this out on Tuesday: “The main risk group at the moment are men who have had sex with other men. And that must be able to be addressed in order to protect this group.”