Your Excellency, Dear Marta,
Dear Matej and Matej,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is not only a pleasure for me and my husband Andreas, being part of this special event, it is an honor for me, to convey the solidary greetings of friendship from my organization, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, to you all.
We share the same values, we stand together in our conviction: we have to improve the European Union as a place, where minorities are not only tolerated but respected and treated with equal rights.
An Europe where discrimination of people has no place, not because of sexual identity and gender orientation, and not for any other reason, like belonging to an ethnic group, religion, disability, descent or political views.
We are all fighting and tonight — of course — celebrating for nothing less — or nothing more — then the fulfilling of a promise, which we can read as the first sentence in very important document which is 68 years old: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And Article One says: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
So, at the beginning, let me say it very clear: it is a shame for those who deny equal dignity and rights to LGBTI-people and it is our privilege to be part in that honorable fight, to help enforce that declaration around the world.
The Dragon‘s Ball and the Pink Week are part of this fight, and show, that activating for a worthy cause is not only duty but can also be pleasure and fun. And while enjoying that pleasure, we all are very aware, that tomorrow our work continues. Here in Slovenia, in Germany, in Europe and around the world.
Because we are living in times where success and backlash are going hand in hand. We are living in times where reactionary tendencies are raising again around us, tendencies, which we all thought, have overcome since long times. We are facing a refreshed resistance against the guarantee of a free and self-determined lifestyle.
We all are feeling that the upcoming efforts to restore a system of paternalistic heteronormativity. We hear homo- and transphobic speeches, from people, who have that strange and wrong thinking, that giving equal rights to minorities are a thread for their living in traditions of the past. But quite the contrary is the truth: giving equal rights to minorities, testify how strong a country’s democracy is.
We find those discriminating campaigns nowadays all over the world. We have to struggle with them in Germany, and you made that sad experience, with the referendum in December last year. We, your friends in Germany hoped so much, that the referendum would approve the right of equal marriage in Slovenia. That Slovenia had such a law — opening the marriage or same sex couples — was such a strong sign for your country, for the south-east-european region and for whole Europe. So we felt and suffered with you, that for this time, there was a negative result.
You did a great job in campaigning and after all the work, it surely was a depressing result. But, you all did the right thing, you didn‘t give up. Because in a deeper sense, we all know, that everything the community achieved — together with the help of our straight allies — was hard-earned during the past.
And you have an advance in comparison to us in Germany: you have your government on the right side. That in April the new law was adopted, was a very good answer to all those, who thought, they will succeed with discrimination.
And even, while it is not yet the “full program” with adoption rights, in the end, Slovenia will be ahead of Germany with marriage equality next year. And not only because Andreas and I fell in Love with Slovenia, and with the exciting city of Ljubljana, we should come back next year, to get married here and get rid of this “Registered Partnership”, we still will have in Germany. Registered Partnership, don‘t you think too, that sounds like a bureaucratic monster? This shouldn‘t be the expression for what stands behind it: Love, confidence and happiness for two people, who love each other. Normally called marriage.
Different institutions and wordings for the same thing, just to invent differences, where are no differences.
The same with families and “rainbow-families”. In the last years a great number of highly scientific evaluations from eminently respectable universities in the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and many countries more, showed that there is not a single disadvantage for the growth of children in same sex couples. These are ordinary families, they have to deal with the same things, traditional families have. So don‘t call them “Rainbow-families”, which gives an impression like the manifestation of a unicorn.
All these word-creations have only one deeper sense: that those who are against it, don‘t have only a single counting argument against it. And even if it is three years ago, let me give you a very good prove for that fact:
During our last elections for our federal parliament, a young gay men asked Chancellor Merkel, what are her arguments against equal marriage and full adoption rights for same sex couples. She tried to explain it with the usual “traditional Christian values”, with “occidental values” — you all know those phrases, which have a lot of words, but make any sense. But the young men insisted and drove Mrs. Merkel into a corner. She began to stumble and at least she said: “Well, it‘s because… äh… you should accept it, that is my gut instinct.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends: here we go! We have all the arguments on our side, we know, our rights are entitled through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but for our last victory we need to invent a medicine against gut instinct.
So, we all know, what we have to do, tomorrow, after a long party-night, here at the Dragon‘s Ball: research for a medicine against bigotry and marrow-mindedness. And while we celebrate and party tonight, we don‘t forget our common goal: to reach equal rights and equal respect in society for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. Especially for our friends, who have to live in countries where they have to face prosecution, punishment and conviction.
One of the most important goals, we should have, is: to oblige our governments to work together and to work effective for a worldwide ban of criminalization of Homosexuality.
As long as same sex love is threatened by law, as long as there is only a single country, which throws LGBTI-people into prison or even worth, kills them by capital punishment, our work is not done!
This is not only a question of solidarity. I think we owe this, to all the gay men and lesbian women and to every Trans-Person who were denied to live a free and self-determined life in former times.
In Germany we remember those 50.000 men, who were send to concentration camps in the 12 years of Nazi dictatorship; a lot of them died there. But it lasted for more than 45 years after the end of World War II, that article 175 — which criminalized same sex love in Germany for over 123 years — was distinguished from the penalty code of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 1994. Between 1950 and 1969 another 50.000 men were sentenced after article 175 and send to prison, in our “democratic Germany”. And it was finally last week, when a legal opinion from leading legal experts, again came to the conclusion, that those convicts have to be rehabilitated. What a shame for our country, that this has not done much earlier.
The political international fight against criminalization of same sex love is one of my federations primary duties.
Therefore, in 2007 we started with our LGBTI — Human Rights Foundation, the Hirschfeld-Eddy-Foundation. In the meantime, with the help of many supporters, the financial support of our foreign ministry and in cooperation with other human rights foundations as well as networlking with foreign embassies ‑the Slovenian embassy ahead -, we support LGBTI activists in the global south on one hand, and do political lobbying for anti-criminalization of LGBTI on the other hand.
And this shows, why the networking of our communities is so important. We need to strengthen that alliance which is titled with: LGBTI-Rights are Human Rights!
An alliance between the LGBTI-community and governments, NGOs, civil society as well as the economy. And for this, it is a very good sign, that the Dragon‘s Ball is powered by Mercedes-Benz. We need more companies like Mercedes Benz, which support as economic global player diversity inside their companies and spread the message for equal rights around the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, in Germany we have a proverb, which says: “One can talk about everything, but not more than five minutes”. And even if I bombed that proverb yet, I hope you excuse me, that I have to mention one more very relevant theme to current situation.
In my point of view, Germany and Slovenia did the very right things dealing with the stream of refugees in the last month. Those poor people, who had to leave their country, did this because of war and prosecution, they did this only for to save their lives.
And Slovenia as a small European country, gave aid to those people to the hilt.
This was an exemplarily demonstration for many other European countries and a very clear message, that Slovenia shares the real values of the European idea.
Among the refugees, we find a higher percentage of LGBTI people, than in average population. And we have the sad situation, that those LGBTI-refugees have to suffer discrimination among their own group of refugees, because of religious and/or cultural traditions.
My federation is working together with administrative bodies as well as non-government organizations in Germany, to take care for those LGBTI refugees and to sensitize for that problem. And as I learned from your Mayor, Mr. Jankovic, Ljubljana is doing the same. So I would like to take the opportunity to encourage you all, in supporting his work and in networking with us. We have to be aware, that this is another very important task to solve, lying ahead of us all. But together we will succeed in solving that task.
To the end, Andreas and I like to express our from heart coming thanks: for the invitation to Slovenia, to Ljubljana, the Pink Week and the Dragon‘s Ball.
It is our first visit here, but very sure not our last one! We had the opportunity to visit some of your really thrilling landscapes, we met so many friendly people and found new friends, we had and have such a great time here, thank you for the beautiful organization of the Dragon‘s Ball and the program of the Pink Week.
Dear Matej and Matej, thank you for the great organization of the pink week and this wonderful Dragon‘s Ball. You are doing such a great job, for Slovenia and for the Community. This is amazing!
And I have to repeat: Andreas and I fell in Love with sLOVEnia. BUT, I have to admit, before we fell in Love with Slovenia, we fell in Love with a very special person from Slovenia.
With Her Excellency Marta Kos-Marko, your Ambassador in Germany. She is not only the best ambassador a country can have: highly professional in representing her country, smart, charming, always well-informed and a perfect Lady, over all she is not only an ambassador for Slovenia but an ambassador for humanity and human rights.
And she is such a strong ally for the LGBTI community, and impressed some 1.000.000 people during the last Cristopher Street Day in Berlin with this marvelous Slovenian Truck. And this year she is doing is again, that is so impressing. And a perfect marketing for your country, as an open and free society. And so we agree totally, to a post from Mattej on facebook, where he wrote as comment beneath a picture with Marta: “The queen of Berlin”. So I bow in respect and love to you, “Queen Marta”.
And now let‘s party, we are entitled to do so, because we are on the right side, on the side of Human Rights. Thank You all!