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Hollow symbolism doesn’t help us

Looking at the government’s public messages, one might think that utopian conditions prevail for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Germany. There are rainbow flags, declarations of solidarity and – above all – a solid amount of self-righteousness.
The problem: words and deeds do not match.

Not worthy of blessings

A few weeks ago there was a wave of outrage over a Vatican statement that the Catholic Church should refuse to bless same-sex couples. This is interesting because the church has no problem blessing random gates, for example (which apparently embody the will of God?). This statement is simply aimed at the exclusion of certain people. Same-sex couples, to be a bit more precise. The government’s answer to this: Well, that’s just the way it is. You’ll have to live without blessings, you little sinners. That’s your problem, not ours.

But fortunately, alongside the supporters of this rule, there were also many who opposed it. Rev. Carsten Leinhäuser commented: “Not blessing people who love each other is an impudence. And it’s hurtful.” By saying that, the man with a cross around his neck looked more like an ally than some members of the government.

Free ride for Catholics

The fact that the government, which has been led by the conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) for sixteen years, is not willing to do something concrete and unambiguous to counter the activities of the church is a given. It doesn’t matter whether the issue is sexual abuse, cover-ups or the exclusion of minorities. Here and there, a lukewarm word of indignation is uttered and, together with the classic phrases of inaction such as “this cannot be accepted” and “we demand a comprehensive investigation“, one feels absolved of responsibility. We have met the bare minimum of expectations and said what everyone already knew. Well done, we can pat ourselves on the back, another task completed.
This does not help the victims in any way.

Responsibility is not optional  

The stance in society and politics is still the same: If you have something against the decisions of the church, then you should simply leave the church. This perspective bothers me because it suggests that the church is only responsible for its own members and has no responsibility beyond that. I believe that’s a very idiosyncratic and relativizing view. Perhaps an example may illustrate the problem here. 

The statements made by the former head of the DFB (German Football Association), Fritz Keller, are absolutely repulsive and worthy of condemnation. Although I am not a member of the DFB and have absolutely nothing to do with football in general, I would join the demands for reforms. No one should be indifferent to such statements.
The outrage over Keller is not just coming from within the Association. Because the DFB is a large and high-profile institution with a great deal of power and influence, the president cannot simply make arbitrary Nazi comparisons. Whether he likes it or not – he is a role model whose responsibility goes beyond the headquarters of the German Football Association.

And the church is not supposed to have this responsibility? Not even when it degrades same-sex couples as second-class people?

Show, don’t tell

If you believe the tweets of CDU Secretary General Paul Ziemiak or the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany, coalition partner of the CDU), the German government is fully committed to protecting and strengthening the rights of minorities. To believe that, you only have to leave out its dealings with the church. And the fact that the CDU blocked the vote on same-sex marriage for years. And that they voted against it by a majority in the end. And that the government just voted against abolishing the discriminatory Transsexual Law.
2021 is an election year. Is all of this still voting-amnesia or is it already election-campaign-schizophrenia?

Rainbow flags are all well and good, but they are not a substitute for policies that truly change something for these people. And that’s exactly what this government is not doing. The relationship of the CDU to the members of the community fluctuates harder than the Bitcoin price: We like to include the feel-good symbolism in our election campaign. But when it comes to the actual decisions – we’d rather vote against it. The SPD is not much better in this respect – its good will may seem a bit more authentic, but who is supposed to be satisfied by that, if they end up bowing to their coalition partner anyway? 

Everyone loves bright colors

I would actually be happy to see a rainbow flag in front of the party headquarters, if it weren’t for this conspicuous discrepancy. It smells a bit like hypocrisy, but maybe it’s just the harbinger of the fact that a new parliament will be elected in September. 

By the way, each color of the pride flag has its own meaning: pink stands for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, blue for serenity and violet for spirit. Today, when it waves in front of the headquarters of the governing parties, the colors look more like the distress signals of a sinking ship. 

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