Am 28. April 2016 veranstaltete der deutsche Botschafter in Lettland, Rolf Schütte, einen Regenbogenempfang in seiner Residenz in Riga. Der Einladung folgten lettische LGBT-Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten, Engagierte der Baltic HIV Association, die bekannte Journalistin Rita Rudusa sowie die Botschafter der Niederlanden und von Kanada. Zugleich zeigte die weitestgehende Abwesenheit der lettischen Abgeordneten – mit nur einer Ausnahme –, wie wenig Zuspruch das Thema Homosexualität in Lettland nach wie vor erfährt. Die Gespräche am Abend bestätigten diesen Eindruck, weder aus Politik noch aus Zivilgesellschaft gibt es Zuspruch für die lettische homosexuelle Emanzipationsbewegung. Besonders stolz sind die Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten daher auf den EuroPride, der 2015 in Riga stattfand, obwohl er von drei Viertel der Menschen in Riga abgelehnt wurde, so eine Umfrage des lettischen Zentrums für soziologische Forschung SKDS. Lesben, Schwule, Bisexuelle und Transgender in Lettland sind daher besonders auf internationale Kooperationen angewiesen. Bereits 2010 hatte die Hirschfeld-Eddy-Stiftung die Konferenz „Human Rights and Homosexuality – Past, Present, Future“ unterstützt. Dabei konnte u.a. das Buchprojekt „Forced Underground. Homosexuals in Soviet Latvia“ realisiert werden.
Der Regenbogenempfang in der Botschafterresidenz wurde mit einem persönlichen Grußwort des Geschäftsführers des Lesben- und Schwulenverbandes Berlin-Brandenburg, Jörg Steinert, eröffnet:
Thank you Mister Ambassador Rolf Schütte!
Ladies and gentleman, your excellencies,
I am honored to be here with you today.
For ten years I have been working for the Berlin regional office of the Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany.
The visibility of lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual people has increased over recent years and decades. It has done so both in the capital and in the rest of Germany.
Every year there are Christopher Street Day demonstrations along with lesbian and gay street fairs attended by hundreds of thousands of spectators.
But daily life has changed as well.
A politicians’ homosexuality is no longer met with anxiety and outrage. Same-sex couples have children, and even religious institutions are opening up.
Just recently the Berlin chapter of the protestant church has instituted equal rights for lesbian and gay couples both judicially and liturgically. Beginning on July 1st, same-sex couples will be able to get married in the church.
All this sounds very positive. But there are still many problems to be solved in Germany.
To this day, gay men, who for decades were prosecuted by the state, have not been rehabilitated. In 2001 the same sex union was established. But the institution of marriage, with all its’ rights, remains a privilege reserved for heterosexual couples. Incidents of violence towards homosexuals and transsexuals are happening again and again.
Simply walking down the street holding your partners hand or kissing them good bye can be met with verbal and physical violence.
For a year now, Germany has been the destination for many refugees. Among them, too, are gays, lesbians and transsexual people. They’ve fled war and the terror of the Islamic State. But in Germany they often become victims of violence once again.
You have right wing extremists setting fire to refugee camps, while inside those camps, homosexual and transsexual refugees are met with abuse from other refugees.
It is vitaly important that we educate people on the subject of sexual identity and diversity early on in life.
It is neither a disease nor is it a sin.
With the slogan “love deserves respect” our association advocates tolerance and nondiscrimination in schools. The reception by both teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive. Even in elementary schools, where we talk to the children about family diversity.
Once a year, we organize a soccer tournament with the slogan “show respect for lesbians and gays”. Hundreds of gay and straight athletes meet to compete fairly and show support.
Yes, problems exist.
Hower counter-strategies are taking effect and we are lucky to have many partners on our side. Soccer clubs, companies, religious institutions like the protestant church and the Jewish community, women’s‑rights groups, and many more.
In Berlin, we enjoy the privilege that all political parties represented in the local parliament welcome and support our efforts; the Social-Democrats, the Greens, the Left-Party, the Pirate Party and even the Christian Democrats. This is not the case for the whole of Germany.
I also appreciate that NGOs work together internationally, among them the Latvian organization Mozaika and the German Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation.
At the same time, I want to emphasize that the fight against homophobia is not only the responsibility for lesbians and gays. Just as the fight against racism.
It cannot be left to those affected by violence and discrimination to stand up against these injustices. Everyone has a responsibility to speak up.
That is why I was honored to follow the invitation by the German ambassador to be here with you today.
I hope that we will have an engaging and delightful evening.
Thank you for your attention.