American gays aren’t the only ones who’ve been grinning over the re-election of President Obama last Tuesday. We spoke to prominent queers from all corners of Europe who have almost universally praised the election result, pointing out the Obama Administration’s groundbreaking commitment to international LGBT rights.
The sole Debbie Downer? British activist and provocateur Peter Tatchell, who took the opportunity to remind us of Guantanamo, the war in Afghanistan and the ongoing Bradley Manning trial (not that any of those would’ve had brighter futures under a Romney administration).
Here are election reflections from eleven notable gay Europeans, in their own (in some cases translated) words:
Bertrand Delanoë (above right), openly gay mayor of Paris, via his website: “[Obama's victory] maintains that the United States is on the path to a more just society. Commending the work done by Barack Obama in his first term, I wish him to continue to assert his vision of a more just and more free America during the next four years.”
Eva Maria-Glimmer Þorarinsdottir Lange, co-owner of Icelandic LGBT tour operator Pink Iceland: “Instead of going backwards and possibly having the rights that we already have taken away from us, we move forward in the hope of more states legalizing gay marriage and that LGBT families will have the same rights as other families. The president of the USA can now be a role model in these issues.”
Elio Di Rupo, openly gay prime minister of Belgium, via his website: “I congratulate Barack Obama on his victory in the US presidential election. His re-election is an encouraging sign for the future of the United States, the world and therefore Belgium. Americans have opted for a more just and more tolerant America.”
Lazaro Carrasco (right), half of the Spanish bear band Barb@zul: “I was surprised to see a US president defend the gay community for the first time. I think many homosexuals in Spain wanted Obama to win. He seems to me very close and friendly with people, and hopefully he will be able to allow same-sex marriage.”
Jon Voss, editor of Sweden’s largest gay magazine, QX: “[Gay Swedes] are all relieved that Barack Obama was re-elected. What he and Hillary Clinton have done to raise awareness of LGBT issues around the world is extremely important and appreciated by all of us living outside the US. We were all fearing that Romney would take over and destroy all that important work for human rights that the US with Obama/Clinton can be associated with.”
Nikolay Baev, former head of LGBT rights organization GayRussia: “Obama’s re-election is very good news not only for Americans, but also for the global LGBT community. Mr. Obama was the first [US president] to officially support gay rights in the world. No other US administration did it before. This is a big achievement for all LGBT people in the world, because the US still remains human rights champion and watch dog in the world. So I hope that Mr. Obama continues to support the LGBT movement, including Russia. However, here I expect more firmness and courage from him. Because unfortunately Russian gays and lesbians still remain victims of politics between super powers. So please, Mr. Obama, don’t be afraid of Mr. Putin, tell him to stop violating gay rights in Russia. Tell him to stop being such a homophobic bastard!”
Peter Tatchell, UK LGBT rights activist (via Twitter): “#Obama win means more #drone attacks, #Guantanamo detention, #BradleyManning trial & #Afghanistan war.”
Sebas van der Sangen, press officer for Amsterdam Marketing in the Netherlands: “Speaking for myself and not the city of Amsterdam, [Obama's] re-election is a clear choice in favor of an open and tolerant America. Let’s hope that in the coming four years Obama will take a lead on the issue of LGBT rights. This will not only change the lives of millions of American LGBT’s, but also motivate many other influential [people] in our world to undertake action.”
Petr Prokopík, founder of Czech LGBT tour operator Prague4Gay: “I’m glad Obama is re-elected. His and Hillary Clinton’s open and active support for LGBT rights around the world is very important for a small countries like the Czech Republic. Because of its minor role, the Czech Republic will never be the first country to adopt new laws securing equal citizen rights for LGBT people. However, the USA’s example and support play a major role in the direction our country takes.”
Giannis Papagiannopoulos, editor of Greek gay magazine Antivirus: “President Obama’s re-election is very good news. Let’s hope that he will meet up to our expectations.”