Marriage for all – nothing queer about it

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Gordon Kricke (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2018 - 12:00am

What my wife and I like most about being in the Philippines is that people here are generally very friendly and open-minded, warm and welcoming. As a foreigner it is easy to feel at home and it is not so hard to immerse into life here. My impression is that most Filipinos have a genuine sense of hospitality and are quite tolerant and relaxed. Of course, not only foreigners benefit from this positive environment, it is good for everybody. The Philippines is ranked for example as one of the most gay-friendly nations in a global survey covering 39 countries conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013. This survey showed that 73 percent of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society.”

This general positive attitude towards the rights of homosexuals is something Filipinos and Germans have in common. Germany has frequently been seen as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. According to that same survey 87 percent of Germans viewed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, which was the second highest in the world following Spain (88 percent).

Last October Germany legalized same-sex marriage which was a major step towards equal rights for everybody. It was the result of a long and sometimes controversial discussion in the public and in the Bundestag, the German Parliament. There were voices that this reform would undermine the traditional marriage and its role in the society. In that view all rights must have limits, homosexuals may enter into a registered same-sex partnership, but that doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to marry. Some also argued that it might hurt the religious feelings of devout believers. However, in the end the argument prevailed that all people living in Germany are equal under the law and should therefore have the legal right to marry the person they love. A society may not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, sex or sexuality and denial of marriage rights is clear discrimination. A large majority of members of the Bundestag therefore voted in favor of the law. 

It is indeed a general trend. Even if there are still some countries where homosexuals – and often other minorities as well – are fiercely discriminated against, there are more and more countries in the world allowing gay marriages.

Not everything is rosy of course, neither in Germany nor elsewhere. Discrimination of members of the LGBT community still happens in everyday life. But we have come a long way in Germany since the Seventies when the acclaimed gay film producer Rosa von Praunheim first opened the eyes of many with his celebrated documentary titled “it is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the situation in which he lives.” This led to several gay rights groups being founded and was the beginning of the modern gay liberation movement in Germany. In the following years anti-gay criminal law was abolished and more and more homosexuals refused to continue an agonizing double-life and came out publicly. Nowadays 95 percent of Germans are in favor of anti-discrimination laws and less and less people feel the need to hide their sexual orientation.

(Gordon Kricke is the German ambassador)


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