Kai Gehring, a German Green Party lawmaker, is accusing Family Minister Kristina Schroeder of ignoring the needs of the nation’s queer youth. Is he right?
I always take issue with reports of “violent gay-bashing on the rise in Germany” — like this one — that don’t have any data attached to them, and fail to differentiate between a rise in actual violence or reported violence, but so goes Gehring’s claim that government officials, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, isn’t doing enough for LGBT young people. Gehring, the Green’s youth spokesman, says Schroeder’s “lack of interest in five to ten percent of youths unacceptable.”
Sounds like he’s got a point:
Gehring had sent an inquiry to Schroeder’s ministry demanding that it explain its position on the difficulties facing homosexual youths. He was dismayed at the response he received, which he says demonstrated, in part, an ignorance of the difficulties of young gay life. These include psychological struggles and lack of social acceptance, as well as poor physical health, bullying and high suicide rates.
The ministry’s response denied any knowledge of suicide statistics for homosexual youths, which Gehring called “implausible” as the document itself made multiple references to a 1999 study that placed suicide attempts among homosexuals at 18 percent – four times the rate of heterosexual youths. Schroeder, who was not available for comment, did show some awareness of young gays’ struggles in her response, said Gehring, but no intention of doing anything about them.
Gehring called Schroeder’s stance “utterly shameful, because we know that ‘gay pig’ remains one of the most popular insults on school playgrounds, that bullying and violence are still widespread.”
What’s Gehring demanding then? More programs to prevent LGBT suicides, promote tolerance, and have the Merkel administration take a firm stance against homophobia. Which sounds perfectly reasonable, especially in a country that already legalized domestic partnerships for same-sex couples back in 2001.