11 Prominent Gay Europeans Reflect On President Obama’s Re-Election

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 [email protected]: “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!”

Klaus Wowereit (right), openly gay mayor of Berlin, via Die Welt: “I very much hope that Barack Obama will now soon come to Berlin for a state visit.”

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.”


Photos: jyc1, [email protected] official website, and Dagmar Metzger

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  • Sohobod

    Peter Tatchell is such a cliched and self-serving refugee from the ‘right on’ 1970s. He is about as relevent to gay people in the modern world as the Space Hopper is to the future of transport policy.
    And no, I’m not going to subscribe £15 a month (as his acolytes keep asking in virtually every UK gay publication) to support him in his ‘fight’. Quentin Crisp hated Peter Tatchell for a very good reason.

  • Panther

    As a Gay American fiercely interested in Human Rights Mr. Tatchell seems to be the only one quoted that makes any sense. Obama uses “Gay Rights” rhetoric to gain Gay votes with zero substance to back that support. He does NOT believe Gays should have the right to Marry. He does NOT believe that Gay Rights should be addressed at the Federal level but should be left up to the individual States. As Mr Tatchell has pointed out Obama has continued the Right wings foreign policies resulting in the murders of tens of thousands of innocent civilians Gay and Straight. To state that “His (Obama’s) and Hillary Clinton’s open and active support for LGBT rights around the world” is just not true. Another comment that “hopefully he will be able to allow same-sex marriage.” is just moronic suggesting that Obama has dictatorial powers in the USA.

  • Jim Hlavac

    Every European I ever met has told me that I should not comment on European issues — for I’m an American and I don’t know enough, they tell me — and I’ve met many Europeans in my capacity of running a youth hostel in the Southwest. Meanwhile, my grandparents left Europe to get away from what they do or think over there – -not to herald its implementation over here. Meanwhile, too, not one European I ever met in the past 35 years has a clue as to how our states and counties and the rest of our system works. They are woefully uninformed on our Constitution, and given the EU’s laws, and the laws of many of those nations, certainly against most of it. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot what some Europeans think about the president, or our country. Meanwhile, too, as a taxpayer here involved in shoveling endless billions to prop up the Euro there, and pay for their defense, (exit strategy from Iraq? Where’s our exit strategy from Germany and the rest 70 years after their war?) — so it’s no wonder they think Obama is some savior. Which is probably the biggest problem with Europeans, they look to politicians as saviors, as kingly even, with divine rights, still, perhaps (all them kings, egad, get rid of the royalty and I might gain some respect.) So, yes, who cares what some Europeans say? Let them go bail out Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland without US help already, so wonderful they are.

  • jwrappaport

    @Panther: Strictly with respect to gay rights, you can’t say that Obama has “zero substance.” I suppose you could, but you’d be wrong. He’s not exactly a shining beacon of equality, and he does conveniently hide behind states rights when it suits him, but let’s recap some of his last term:

    1. Signed DADT repeal
    2. Signed Matthew Shepard Act (expanded federal hate crime law to include sexual orientation and gender identity)
    3. Banned trans discrimination in the federal government
    4. Appointed two pro-equality justices to the Supreme Court (where our biggest fights will be resolved)
    5. Included married gay couples in the census
    6. Authorized military chaplains to perform same-sex weddings on or off post
    7. Reversed our previous refusal to sign the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    8. Twice extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees
    9. Required virtually all hospitals to require LGBT visitation

    It may not seem like a lot given that we’re still not fully equal before the law, but when you consider that Obama’s open support of gay rights, disingenuous though you may find it, is literally unprecedented in this nation’s history (and is a marked about-face from Bush II).

    That we have someone in the White House who favors our equal protection under the law rather than Mittens, who literally couldn’t conceive of a lesbian couple having a family, is a reason to celebrate. I don’t disagree with your foreign policy gripes, but I just don’t see why that’s a reason to deny Obama’s progress on gay rights, glacial though it feels. Would you honestly prefer Romney or say that there is no meaningful difference between the two candidates?

  • dregstudios

    Obama is the first President brave enough to support the GLBT community’s access to basic civil rights. The church and conservative hands paint a Blackface on him for defending this human-rights issue. Religious doctrine and the bigotry which goes along with it have NO place in politics. Read about how Obama and simple logic are being bamboozled at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/10/bamboozling-obama.html

  • jwrappaport

    @Jim Hlavac: Newsflash – most Americans cannot functionally read our Constitution. Can you? I sincerely don’t mean that as a cheap shot or cheeky rhetorical question, but rather in all seriousness. Do you know what the word equity means as a legal term of art? or a Bill of Attainder? or a Letter of Marque and Reprisal?

    The Constitution is a very complicated, nuanced document written in an old, highly technical language that most people (Americans or not) probably do not understand. It doesn’t matter though – their opinions can still be eminently meaningful, and it is their right to speak them just as it is our right to listen. To suggest otherwise is completely against the spirit of the Constitution and the culture, history, and politics that have since shaped it.

    It’s pretty bold (and unfair) to categorically reject someone’s broader opinions on law or social justice simply because they’re from another country. As an aside: 20 of the 27 EU nations aren’t monarchies and that those that are make no pretension of rule by divine right.

  • Panther

    You say that Obama “Signed DADT repeal”. How thoughtful that Obama “allow” us “equality” in the quest to illegally, immorally occupy other countries for our Corporate interests. In just one case (of many) by leaving a corrupt Iraqui government that now is systematically killing Gays. Thanks Obama. We lose again.

  • FStratford


    The guy who illegally immorally occupied Iraq was your president George w bush. Not Obama. Obama tried to fix the mess, imperfectly, but you seem to forget theat the problem was caused by your guy.

    You are a liar

  • spectrumhr

    President Obama was the first one who started to fight for LGBT rights worldwide. We all have to do our part in this fight.

  • spectrumhr

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    Please help us to fight this homophobic, anti-American/anti-UK company. Sign and share this petition:

    For more details: http://stopexpedition.blog.com/2012/11/11/expedition-com-school-of-hatred-and-bigotry/

  • 2eo

    @Jim Hlavac: Bless, and as a European I assume I would be correct [using your logic] that you believe that “your body has ways of preventing pregnancy from legitimate rape” because an American said it?

  • alexoloughlin

    @Sohobod: So what have you done for equality lately? Peter Tatchell has put his life on the line in defense of others and to this day, his health has suffered as a result of a violent beating in Moscow during a demonstration for gay rights in Russia. He is more relevant to LGBT rights than ever being the first to ever raise the unthinkable more than a decade ago regarding the issue of marriage equality long before the Netherlands became the first country to legalize it in 2001. Look what’s happened, 11 countries soon to be 12 in 2013, 9 American states, Mexico City and steadily growing. Thank you, Peter Tatchell!

  • Sohobod


    Whatever he may think, Peter Tatchell – that sour-faced self-serving holier than thou self-publicist – does not speak for me or most gays in the UK. Over here he is seen as something of an embarassment; especially as he is wheeled into TV studios every time the lazy media want the ‘authentic’ voice of the gay.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smile break out on that oh so serious, pinched doom-laden face. Like I said before, there was a good reason Quentin Crisp couldn’t stand the sight of the man.

  • 2eo

    @alexoloughlin: If Sohobod is who I think it is you won’t be getting through, he’s been saying the Quentin Crisp line for years now.

    He isn’t going to do much other than slag off Tatchell, he’s never contributed anything else anywhere I know of. He’s been taken in by the dirt rags take on him and he isn’t clever enough to form his own opinions.

    Having met the fellow, he was smiling and polite and jovial. Don’t think Soho represents us in the UK, he represents himself, and he’s been laughed out of loads of places before here.

  • Sohobod

    @ 2eo
    And then you woke up and found that you’d talked complete bollox…
    I don’t need to read anything about Tatchell from a third party to figure out what he’s like. I can work out the cut of the man’s jib for myself, thank you so very much.

  • Freddie27

    Peter Tatchell is more than simply a gay rights activist. He is also a human rights activist. He has been beaten up by Robert Mugabe’s bodyguards because he attempted a citizen’s arrest, by Russian neo-Nazis during a Pride march and various others. He has embarrassed himself on the British monarchy and age of consent laws, but is generally a great activist for human rights, and is thus concerned about indefinite detention and torture at the US’ concentration camp in Guantanamo and about drone strikes killing Pakistani and Yemeni civilians, not just about LGBT equality.

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