Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interview with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle talks to SPIEGEL about new government plans to tackle the economic crisis, Obama's Afghanistan strategy and his own contribution to German society's acceptance of homosexuality.

SPIEGEL: You are Germany's first homosexual foreign minister. Is that significant?

Westerwelle: I've been party chairman for almost nine years, and during that time I have also made official trips abroad on a regular basis. There have never once been any difficulties or embarrassments because I live with a man. I don't expect to see that as foreign minister either.

SPIEGEL: Does that also apply to Islamic countries? Some impose the death penalty for homosexuality.

Westerwelle: There are countries in which woman are systematically oppressed. There are countries in which woman are treated in ways that we find outrageous. Nevertheless, the Germans have exercised their right to elect a woman as the head of their government.

SPIEGEL: You aren't worried that you'll be treated disrespectfully?

Westerwelle: No, because I haven't experienced anything like that yet. Besides, it would be a moral failing on our part if we were to impose limits on our liberality because others don't agree with it. I see it as an expression of great social and inner liberality that the fact that I, as a man, live with another man has made almost no difference at all in Germany up until now.

SPIEGEL: The acceptance of homosexuals has risen in Germany. Do you feel that you have contributed to this change?

Westerwelle: I may have contributed to it, but I don't deserve any credit for it. I live my life with my life partner. We don't hide our relationship, but neither do we put our relationship on public display. I do know, from the many letters I receive, that this casual, natural approach has been an encouragement for many younger people who are searching for themselves, or who haven't yet found themselves or who still have fears.

The complete interview can be found here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,661498,00.html

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