German FDP head confirms homosexuality, calls for gay rights
July 26, 2004
BERLIN — The head of Germany's centrist Free Democratic Party (FDP) used
a magazine interview Saturday to issue his most forthright remarks
about his homosexuality and to call for more gay rights.
Guido Westerwelle, widely predicted to become foreign minister
in any centre-right coalition government with Germany's Christian
Democrats, told Der Spiegel magazine he was relieved that a tabloid
newspaper had published a photo of him and his male lover last
The photo of Westerwelle, 42, and a 36-year-old Cologne sports
entrepreneur was plastered across the front page of Bild newspaper
under the headline: "Westerwelle loves this man".
In fact, Westerwelle admitted he had staged the taking of the
photograph, knowing it would result in his national coming-out. It
was taken at public ceremonies marking CDU party head Angela
Merkel's 50th birthday.
At the party, where politicians were seated next to their
spouses, Westerwelle and his friend sat next to Bavarian state
Premier Edmund Stoiber, who could be seen in the photo.
As head of the CDU's conservative sister party, the Bavarian
Christian Social Union (CSU), Stoiber has opposed efforts to expand
gay rights in Germany.
"I am of course in favour of more gay rights, as one could well
imagine," Westerwelle told Der Spiegel.
"I can do nothing to change whether people approve or disapprove
of my lifestyle," he added.
"It could well be that my coming out will improve the lot of
gays in big cities, or it could result in more rejection of gays in
rural areas," he admitted. But he said he could not permit such
considerations to cloud his judgement.
"As far as I'm concerned my life is very natural and there's
nothing unacceptable about it," he went on. "I live my life fully
and I can truthfully say I've never put up a false front."
He said he was fully aware of opposition to gay marriage by the
CDU-CSU, which would be the FDP's coalition partners in any
Nonetheless, Westerwelle called for legislation putting gay
unions on an equal legal footing with conventional marriage.
"The actual situation is that such unions carry with them
tremendous responsibilities such as, for example, payment of taxes
and social-security support and all the rest," he said. "But they
receive none of the advantages granted to married couples such as
tax breaks and inheritance and medical visitation rights. That
cannot be right."
Currently, gay couples are able to register their unions with
local authorities in Germany, but receive only limited legal rights
in return and no tax benefits.
He said he supported legislation by Gerhard Schroeder's
centre-left coalition government to permit legally registered gay
couples to adopt children.
"Faced with the choice of allowing children to grow up in a
loving and supportive home or allowing them to languish in an
orphanage, I think the first choice is the obvious one."
Stoiber, who was narrowly defeated by Schroeder in the 2002
general election, has vowed to see to it that current gay
legislation is stricken from the books if a centre-right coalition
government comes to power.
"That will not happen as long as I have anything to say about
it," Westerwelle told the magazine. – Sapa-DPA
Germany proposes futher rights for gay couples [07/06/2004]