Tysklands utenriksminister Guido Westerwelle sier han ikke lenger vil ta med sin partner på reiser til land hvor homofili er forbudt eller straffbart. Dette for ikke å provosere. Uttalelsen kritiseres som et knefall for krefter som forfølger homofile.

Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s openly gay foreign minister, told the magazine Bunte earlier this week that, in the future, he would not take his partner, Michael Mronz, with him on official trips to countries where homosexuality is a prosecutable crime. «We want to promote the concept of tolerance in the world,» he told the magazine. «But we also don’t want to achieve the opposite by behaving imprudently.» At the same time, he said, it is important that «we live according to our own measures of tolerance and that we do not adopt the sometimes less tolerant measures of others.»

Dette kritiseres for å være ulogiske ytringer. Det ene slår det andre i hjel. Hvis Westerwelle ønsker å fremme toleranse, hvorfor bøyer han seg for de intolerante? Det er slik uttalelsen vil bli oppfattet i land som forfølger homofile. Han, Tysklands utenriksminster, ønsker ikke provosere ved å ta med sin partner.

Sju land idømmer dødsstraff for homofile: Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania, Somalia, Nigeria og Saudi Arabia. I 75 land er homofili straffbart.

Ved åpent å innrømme at han ikke tar med partneren til de verste landene, har Westerwelle bøyd seg for homofobien. Hva var poenget med å fremføre en slik konsesjon offentlig?

Henryk Broder har en bitende kommentar.

One doesn’t have to read his remark twice to understand what it signifies: Tolerance is a wonderful thing, but we shouldn’t push our luck. This is more than the usual hot air from a politician. Westerwelle’s words are an example of moral hara-kiri in slow motion, and they’re a disgrace for Germany.

Homosexuality is a statutory offence in at least 75 countries, but the penalties for being gay run the gamut from the mild to the severe. The love between two men is punishable by death in Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Mauritania, Somalia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. In Iran alone, more than 4,000 men who were allegedly or actually gay have been hanged over the past 30 years, since the beginning of that country’s «Islamic Revolution» in 1979. Some would say that at least they are treated less severely than «adulteresses,» who are stoned to death, but such subtle distinctions are only relevant to experts on Islam, like Dr. Katajun Amirpur, who give preference to hanging over stoning.

It also isn’t entirely clear whether Westerwelle truly considered the potential impact of his statement or was simply babbling away. How does he intend to «promote the idea of tolerance in the world» by making allowances for the intolerance of his hosts? From his office at FDP headquarters? By giving the opening remarks at the Christopher Street Day event in Cologne?

Or perhaps by covering up his partner in a burqa on overseas trips?

Westerwelle isn’t malicious or stupid. He just has a shocking tendency to speak without reflecting. The very idea that we ought to behave prudently so as not to «achieve the opposite» is wrong. This way of thinking begins with the desire not to provoke anyone, in the interest of preserving the peace, and ends with self-abandonment.

Globalized Moral Standards

The people Westerwelle doesn’t want to provoke are out to control more than just the behavior of their own subjects. They have globalized their standards. They become incensed over the supposed lack of morality in other countries, they seek to kill cartoonists they know only by reputation, and they impose fatwas on writers whose books they cannot read. Anyone who behaves «prudently» under these circumstances, so as not to achieve «the opposite,» is operating on the erroneous assumption that he is responsible for the behavior of his counterparts; that, for example, the situation for homosexuals in Iran would only worsen if he openly displayed his own homosexuality.

Ditching Principles for Diplomacy