Einweihung des Homosexuellen-Denkmals

Rede von Linda Freimane (ILGA Europe) am 27. Mai 2008

The inauguration of the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime (designed by Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset)
May 27, 2008

Dear Minister, dear Mayor,
Ministers, ambassadors, distinguished guests and friends,

It is indeed a great honour for me to speak at this memorable occasion as one of millions of homosexual people in Europe. I bring you greetings from the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which I represent here today -- both from ILGA World, which is represented in more than 100 countries the world over, and from ILGA Europe, with member organizations in 43 countries in Europe. I am happy to see that one of the international co-secretary generals of ILGA, Philipp Brown is also present here.
Today, our continent is a safe place to live if you are homosexual – safe in comparison with many other places on our earth, where homosexuality is still considered a punishable crime. As a matter of fact even today, in 2008, no less than 86 member states of the United Nations still criminalize consensual sexual acts among adults of the same gender. Among those, 7 countries have legal provisions with the death penalty as punishment. Often the criminalization of homosexual acts in other continents is a shameful legacy from colonial times.

It may seem incomprehensible in today’s world, that someone could be imprisoned for many years or even executed for the simple reason of loving another person who happens to have the same gender. Nevertheless, not many decades have passed since homosexuality was considered a crime also in most European countries. We do not even have to look as far back as the 1940-ies to find clear human rights violations against gays and lesbians who stood up for their right to love and respect.
I come from a country, which only abolished the act criminalizing same sex relationships 16 years ago. Last summer, as we stood ready to begin our annual pride parade in Riga, Latvia, an older man came up to me and said that he wanted to thank us for our courage to do what we do. He himself, he told me, was a gay man who had spent seven years in prison for this reason.

You could think that this was an anomaly inherited from the Soviet Union. Unfortunately much of this legacy is still present in today’s independent Latvia, as it is in most other post-socialist countries. Pride marchers are attacked, homosexuals are being discriminated against and harassed in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and many other places. In spite of anti discrimination laws enforced by the EU, still it is impossible to be openly gay if you wish, for example, to work as a teacher, police officer or civil servant in many European countries.
Our right to the most fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of speech and assembly are questioned by religious leaders, opinion makers and politicians. What is even worse – these statements of fear and hatred are met with silence. It seems that our leaders have learned nothing from history and that they still, today, allow anti democratic and anti human forces to spread lies and prejudice without speaking up against them. Politicians are more concerned about losing votes by taking a stand than they are about the protection of human rights and universal freedoms. They ignore the fact, which we all know so well – that discrimination and prejudice against one group in society can very easily spread to other groups.

Europe has come a long way in its battle for the right of each individual and in dealing with its history of discrimination. Today, in Germany and other west European countries, homosexuals along with other vulnerable groups enjoy the protection of their state against prejudice, discrimination and violence. In many places in Europe same sex partners can register their partnership or get married, in some countries the state also supports our wish to become equal parents. We have not yet reached full equality, but we sense the political will to get there.

But this is not enough. You must now also be the ones who do not stay silent when other countries, which have already entered the EU or are knocking on its door, violate the rights of their own citizens. Please remind homophobic, xenophobic, racist and sexist political leaders that they too belong to a Europe, which is built on the assumption of each individual’s right to freedom, dignity, and respect and to seek his or her own happiness. And please, do not forget all those homosexual people around the world who live in fear and despair, who face persecution, humiliation, imprisonment and death for simply being who they are.

I hope that the present and future mayors of Berlin and members of German governments will remember to bring their foreign guests to this memorial when they show them the beautiful city of Berlin.

On behalf of ILGA, ILGA Europe, as well as the Association of LGBT people and their friends „Mozaika“ in Latvia, I wish to thank you dearly for creating this memorial, thus taking a clear stand against the dark forces amongst us.

Thank you

Video der Rede von Linda Freimane

Pressemitteilung des Presse- und Informationsamtes der Bundesregierung

Meldung des Presse- und Informationsamtes des Landes Berlin

Rede von Günter Dworek (Bundesvorstand Lesben- und Schwulenverband LSVD)

Rede von Albert Eckert (Initiative „Der homosexuellen NS-Opfer gedenken“)

für die gesamte Website: © Alexander Zinn 2008
Aller verfolgten im Nationalsozialismus gedenken - Winkel in allen Farben der Haftgruppen