April 30, 2010 – IGLTA Travel Deals
Berlin – The Queer Capital
Viewed against the background of the lesbian and gay scene, Berlin just has to be one of the most exciting cities imaginable. This is where the history of gay emancipation started and where, during the years when the city was partitioned, two quite different scenes evolved which, in the wake of Reunification, were as fast-paced as Berlin itself. Today Berlin offers a many-sided, breathtakingly complex lesbian and gay lifestyle which is reflected in all areas of everyday life in the capital. But it is the night life that provides the most accurate representation of the lively Berlin scene. The party lifestyle of the gay community is the precursor as well as the essential component of that legendary club landscape that entices people from every country under the sun to Berlin, all simply looking to enjoy themselves.
The city’s gay and lesbian scene is concentrated to various degrees in three different districts. Firstly, in Schöneberg to the north, with its classic scene infrastructure; secondly, in Kreuzberg which offers a mixture of culture and solid nightlife (the alternative scene); and lastly, in Prenzlauer Berg (Berlin’s version of Soho) with its rather trendy flair. One look in Siegessäule or Sergej – two free scene magazines that include an extensive service section and are available in almost all of the locations mentioned – shows the enormous variety of Berlin’s scene. The spots that are discussed below are therefore only the first step in viewing "the other Berlin".
The Three Pillars of the Berlin Scene
For visitors to Berlin, Schöneberg makes a good first stop. Its classic infrastructure ranges from gay-friendly pharmacies and fitness clubs to fetish shops and even a gay French fry stand on the Wittenbergplatz. A hundred years ago a scene had already become established around Winterfeldplatz. Today the scene is not just around certain clubs and pubs – the area is also one of the most popular gay residential areas.
Every evening when the bars open their doors, Schöneberg’s lively Motzstrasse is taken over by gays. Early relics of the Berlin scene, such as Tom’s, mingle with modern bars such as Hafen which have themselves progressed to immortal status. In addition to various cinemas and bars, the Connection club is still the best known address for gay clubbing in this district. Women are always welcome for all events. For women who want to exert themselves, there is also Begine. For more tangible contact, the two saunas on Kurfürstenstrasse – Gay Sauna Club Brasil (formerly Apollo City Sauna) and Steam Sauna – occupy a steady position on the scene’s hit list.
The city districts Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg are regarded as "In" districts par excellence and have become a real magnet for the public (and not only for visitors to Berlin either). And on the lesbian and gay front too, a fast-paced movement has emerged which is still a long way from being over. The LGBT image is being shaped by trendy cafés and bars in the style of Marietta, Klub der Republik or Freizeitheim. Prenzlberg and the Centre are the venue for a night life that doesn’t give a fig for sexual orientation. Homo and heterosexuals party together, for instance in Cookies, one of the city’s most stylish clubs. In addition, a good number of the most sought-after addresses (see Berlin Club Nights) can be found here, ensuring party frolics and fun right round the clock.
On the other hand, the scene in Kreuzberg presents a conscious alternative. In Roses or in the Bierhimmel, plus a few other shops located around the Oranienstrasse, you can get a feel for the rough days of the squatters. The robust charm of the Möbel Olfe (invariably jam-packed) is the successful antidote to Centre chic and at the Schoko-Café women will find the much-talked-about Kreuzberg multi-cultural atmosphere. Club-goers not only have the chance to let off steam in the world-class venues of sister district Friedrichshain, but some of the regular parties hosted by Kreuzberg’s SO 36 are also some of the most unusual features of the nightlife on offer in Berlin. In the meantime, one of the "decentralized gay centers" that are typical in Berlin has sprang up at Mehringdamm 61. The "Allgemeine Homosexuelle Arbeits-gemeinschaft" ("General Homosexual Association") is located here, and Melitta Sundström attracts a young student audience who also enjoy themselves on weekends at parties organized by the SchwuZ located below.
The "Queer-Gebäude", situated in the courtyard, is home to the exhibition rooms, archives, and warehouse belonging to the Schwules Museum ("Gay Museum"). The museum is still the only one of its kind in the entire world. Although exhibitions, archives, and groups interested in gay history also exist in other places, the Schwules Museum is the only museum which since 1985 has continuously undertaken scholarly archival work and has presented several internationally-acclaimed exhibitions every year. Added to this, with the acquisition of a large art collection (the Sternweiler Collection) which received state support, the status of the museum was recently greatly enhanced. In addition, the work undertaken by the Schwules Museum offers a unique insight into Berlin’s rich and varied gay history.
Berlin’s Club Nights
The LGBT party lifestyle has long since come out of the areas where it grew up, engaging closely right from the start with the Berlin club landscape. For many years its calling card has been that world famous phenomenon – the Love Parade. The gays made use of the free spirit of the Techno Heads, who did not think in terms of established patterns such as sexual orientation, spicing up the brightly coloured move right from the very beginning with a strong preponderance of pink – a glamorous alliance that still adds up to precisely the right formula for an unforgettable party experience. First and foremost at the Berghain, which is regarded by a number of Techno-Heads as the legitimate successor of such legendary locations as E-Werk and Tresor. With the uncompromising richness of its sounds, the Berghain occupies a prominent position on the address list of an international party crowd streaming enthusiastically towards Berlin. The Connection, which has developed into a ‘must’ for techno-aficionados and housemates, reserves some parties strictly for its lesbian and gay patrons. The Fate Club, with its Sex Dance, is a regular LGBT party oasis and, at the Club Culture Houze, Fetish Parties are on the increase.
If you’re looking for a really dazzling electronic event, why not try the city’s biggest lesbian and gay party at Klub International, which offers tunes of the finest. The place where the event is held – the Kino International – regularly rocks to the most spectacular lesbian parties in the city. And on the weekends at the Panoramabar/Berghain, the real party freaks are still launching themselves into the turmoil well into the small hours. But there are also many, many other addresses that have embraced "electronic dance music" just waiting to be explored – for instance, the Alte Kantine des Berghain or the "Kurzurlaub" in the SO 36. Other party concepts round off the Berlin nightlife, culminating in an astonishing diversity. From the Queer Dance Festival in the Walzerlinksgestrickt Dance Salon, the many-sided Party Friday at SchwuZ, where the programme is peppered with lesbian and gay clichés, or the Orient-Party Gayhane, the belly-dancing event in the SO 36 – Berlin’s Party Thrills offer just the right thing to suit all tastes. As the places and concepts at the most sought-after events can sometimes change at short notice, it is best to look in the gay press e.g. at the free-of-charge Siegessäule (Victory Column) to check out the most up-to-date situation before immersing yourself in the intoxicating diversity of a night out clubbing in Berlin.
June 16, 2010 – PinkNews
German court says gay man’s foreign marriage must be recognised as a partnership
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
A German man who married his Spanish husband in Canada has been told by a court Germany will recognise his marriage as a registered partnership. Andreas Boettcher, a 37-year-old event manager, married his partner in 2006 in Montreal. Canada allows gay marriage. When he returned to Germany, he was seen as a single man in the eyes of the law.
Germany does not recognise gay marriage. Instead, it allows gay couples access to registered partnerships, which grant them some but not all of the rights afforded to straight couples. The Berlin administrative court has now ruled he must be listed as one half of a registered partnership.
In a statement, the court said: "The court agreed with the view of the authorities that he could not be registered as ‘married’ because a marriage under German law requires different-sex couples. However the plaintiff could demand registry as a life partner because Canadian gay marriage largely corresponds under German law to a registered partnership."
July 05, 2010 – YNet News
Germany: Israelis, Iranians march together
Cologne’s gay pride parade brings ‘enemies’ together from Israel, Iran, Turkey
by Yoav Zitun
After the flotilla affair renderred the Israeli GLBT community unwanted in Madrid, a million and a half participants painted the streets of Cologne in the colors of the rainbow flag during a gay pride parade considered one of the largest in Europe. Maybe precisely because of the recent political storm, there was an unexpected spectacle – members of the Iranian community in exile marched side by side with Israelis, openly embracing before the crowds and cameras of the international media which rushed to document the unusual event.
The Israeli delegation arrived by special invitation from the city of Cologne. As they marched carrying Israeli flags alongside the rainbow flags, Iranians joined them carrying Iranian flags from the Shah period, before the Islamic Revolution. One Iranian said he was forced to flee Iran just a month ago after he was identified by the authorities as a gay activist and persecuted.
The Israeli delegation marched at the front of the parade along with Cologne’s mayor Jurgen Rutters. "Even Turks joined us together with representatives from Russia, Ukraine and other states where it is hard to be gay," Adir Steiner said to Ynet. Steiner, who coordinates gay pride events in Tel Aviv, said that "one of them asked me why Israel can’t be a refuge for Iranian gays who are persecuted by the regime. I told him the situation is not black-and-white, and that Iran is a hostile state and it’s forbidden for its citizens to enter Israel."
Yaniv Weizman from Tel Aviv municipality said, "The participation of Tel Aviv representatives is an excellent opportunity to show tens of thousands of participants the beautiful face of Israel, tolerant and open, and Tel Aviv as one of the most fascinating cities in the world today for gay tourists."
July 6th, 2010 – 365 Gay
Thousands celebrate Berlin’s gay pride parade
by The Associated Press
(Berlin) Tens of thousands of gays, lesbians and other revelers marched and danced in downtown Berlin for the German capital’s annual gay pride celebration, which features a colorful parade through the heart of the city. Under the motto “Normal is different,” an estimated 250,000 people lined the route for the Christopher Street Day parade Saturday, as some 50 floats carrying dancers wove through the city streets.
Christopher Street Day commemorates the start of the gay rights movement in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1969 and the parade generally draws large crowds in Berlin, which has a history as a gay metropolis going back as far as the 19th century.
21 July 2010 – DW World
German government ‘ignoring gay youths’ needs,’ says Green MP
by David Levitz
Green Party MP Kai Gehring has accused German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder of recklessly ignoring the needs of gay youths. Gehring has called for an immediate plan of action to battle homophobia. With violent gay-bashing on the rise in Germany – such as the beating of four men and one transsexual last month in Berlin – Germany’s Green Party has accused the country’s family minister of ignoring the dire needs of homosexual youths. The Greens’ youth spokesman, Kai Gehring, called for a federal plan of action to foster the group’s special needs and to combat homophobia nationwide.
Gehring told Deutsche Welle that the government in Berlin, and in particular Christian Democrat Family Minister Kristina Schroeder, "ignore and neglect the interests of gay and lesbian youths." He said he found "her lack of interest in five to ten percent of youths unacceptable.
Violence still widespread
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."
Young gay immigrants particularly at risk
Gehring has demanded that the government put into effect prevention strategies to lower the incidence of gay bashing and suicide among young homosexuals, and that it expand its National Integration Plan to fight homophobia within Germany’s immigrant populations – where traditional gender roles often make life particularly hard for those who do not fit the norms.
According to one study, funded by Schroeder’s ministry itself, young gay migrants are more likely to suffer poor physical health. Gehring on Monday repeated the Green Party’s six-year-old demand for an official study on the situations of gay youths, whom Gehring says are continually left unmentioned in the government’s other youth studies. He says that, to win the fight against homophobia, the government must provide an example – and fund programs to promote tolerance. The Green Party’s youth spokesman is disappointed that Germany’s federal and state governments have not taken a clearer stance on homophobia. "There’s a widespread need for action to support youth who are coming out of the closet," he added. "Recklessly shrugging them off does not help."
Germany better than most countries, however
Germany provides rights and protections for gays that most countries in the world do not – for example, recent anti-homophobic discrimination legislation and the 2001 establishment of same-sex registered partnerships. Yet Klaus Jetz, Managing Director of the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, warns that the country is still no gay paradise. Violent attacks on gays, he says, are on the rise, especially in the country’s gay capitals of Berlin and Cologne.
Jetz puts forth that gays and lesbians will still face violence until homosexuality becomes visible and acceptable in all levels of society. This, he told Deutsche Welle, must begin in schools, where he wants to see homosexuality a topic of discussion "not just in sexual education classes or biology classes" but "in literature classes, in history classes, in language classes, politics and all over."
Jetz also believes that the government plays a determining role in the treatment and self-worth of homosexuals. He wants to see anti-homophobia work added to Germany’s anti-discrimination initiative currently known as the National Plan of Action to Combat Racism, Xenophobia and resulting Intolerance. "If you speak about an action plan against racism and xenophobia, this has to include of course, as well, the aspect of homophobic attitude and homophobic violence in Germany," Jetz explained. Jetz also would like to see equal rights for gays codified in the constitution, as a signal of strength to gay youths.
Still a long way to go
Jetz says that, while youths in big cities already enjoy some special counseling services, there is no infrastructure to provide support for gay youth in Germany’s countryside. He and Gehring both advocate for family and youth services to be sensitized to the special needs of young people coming to grips with an identity that doesn’t fit the norm.
Gehring, meanwhile, hopes that someday in Germany, being different will become the norm, that "every young man and every young woman will grow up self-determined, that they can be different without fear, and that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth can be as accepted as their friends of the same age, and enjoy the same privileges." He said Germany was still far from reaching that goal. "It’s worth fighting for in the coming years," he added, vowing to continue appealing to the federal government for action.
Editor: Rob Turner
July 28, 2010 – PinkNews
Travel: Cologne vies for title of Germany’s gayest city
by JD Van Zyl
“Two gin and tonics please,” I say loudly to make myself heard over the pounding music coming from the dancefloor right behind me. “Noch mal?” the bartender asks, looking slightly confused. “Gin and tonic. Two. Please.” I am almost shouting the words, and for good measure am leaning halfway across the counter so my mouth is only inches from the bartender’s right ear. He disappears to the far end of the bar, then returns and slides two brimming glasses across the sticky wooden counter. “Zwei euro bitte,” he says brightly.
I hand him the cash and take the two tiny cylindrical glasses of Kölsch, barely bigger than test tubes, readying myself for the crowd filling the exit leading onto the street where the rest of my posse is waiting. It seems regardless what you order in Germany, you always end up drinking the local brew. When in Rome… Or Cologne for that matter.
Beer clearly doesn’t just reign supreme in Bavaria, when in Cologne you drink Kölsch. Back on the cordoned-off street outside the Ex-Corner bar I give my other half his 100ml glass of Kölsch, muttering an apology for the failure to deliver a G&T as instructed. A local tells me these special glasses are called Stößche, and are really only good for one big gulp before you have to head back to the bar for another round. Judging by the by the packed crowd around us, this is clearly the correct drink for the occasion.
For the past two decades it’s been a case of Berlin versus Cologne for the title of Germany’s gay capital. But now, as I look down Schaafenstrasse, crammed with hunky guys and the occasional German celebrity all the way down the block, there is no doubt in whose favour the scale swings tonight. Especially when considering this street, home to a mere handful of the city’s forty-odd gay clubs and bars, isn’t even the epicentre of today’s 2010 Cologne Pride festivities.
Two tube stops from here at Heumarkt, right next to the river Rhine, the city is showcasing local acts on multiple stages. Hundreds of thousands of gay boys and girls are spilling into the clubs, bars and party venues in the surrounding streets. In fact just shy of a million spectators were expected in the city for this year’s Pride festivities (known locally as Christopher Street Day, or simply CSD). And right now a good few thousands of them are bustling around us in a street party of epic proportions.
The two week-long Pride festival started mid-June, culminating in the Pride weekend from July 2nd-4th. A staggering 46 parties and events were scheduled for these three days, catering for all tastes and persuasions. From the Xtreme! fetish event in a former factory or Sex im Dreck, a decidedly non-mainstream party in the suburbs, to the brilliant mega Colour party at the Rheinterassen, with its four dancefloors, an erotic maze and jaw-dropping views from the VIP area, Cologne has something to satisfy even most demanding of gay party animals.
In the first week of August, Cologne will again throw its doors open to the international gay community as it welcomes athletes from across the globe to the VIII Gay Games. Over the course of the week more than 12,000 athletes will battle it out across 35 sporting events – from badminton and body building to triathlon and synchronised swimming – as well as five cultural disciplines, like cheerleading and chorus singing.
Although the Gay Games isn’t anticipated to attract anywhere near as many spectators as Cologne Pride (only about 30,000 are expected to attend the opening and closing ceremonies at the RheinEnergieStadion), a trip to the cathedral city will still be well worth the effort. In addition to the sporty side of things, several parties are scheduled throughout the city during the course of the Gay Games, including a White Party to wrap up the festivities.
It is hard not to smile at the paradox that Germany’s gayest city is also its most Catholic. Indeed it is virtually impossible to go anywhere without being aware of the city’s majestic cathedral, the Dom, and its impossibly tall twin spire – said to be the tallest of its kind in the world. But for those looking to get their fill of culture, the city offers much more than the Dom and its gothic splendour. Just around the corner from the cathedral is the Romano-Germanic museum which traces the city’s history back to 50AD when it was first established as a Roman city, Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium.
Classical music lovers are also well catered for by the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln. Based at the zinc-clad and shed-like Philharmonic Orchestra Building and performing under the baton of principal Finnish conductor, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, the orchestra plays like a well-oiled machine with true Germanic warmth and precision. Their recent performance of Gustav Mahler’s first symphony, the Titan, conducted by Jakub Hrusa, was a truly electrifying experience with the audience exploding into a standing ovation when the baton came down for the final beat.
Cologne is a city that is surprisingly easy to fall in love with. And fall in love in. As the thousands of “love locks”, fastened around the fence on the Hohenzollern Bridge and inscribed with lovers initials (including quite a few same-sex names!) attest. True, it doesn’t quite boast the grand magnificence of Berlin, and thanks to massive destruction in WWII its buildings can’t match that of Munich for twee perfection. But maybe it is exactly as a result of this that the city feels as open, accessible and welcoming as it is.
As I scramble up the airstairs of my homebound Lufthansa flight and am greeted by a cheery “Schön guten Tag”, I find myself automatically scheming my next trip to the Rhein city. By the time we’ve reached cruising altitude my new itinerary has already taken shape. I’m even looking forward to my first glass of Kölsch back in the city. Though maybe next time I will look for a bar that serves the local brew in glasses bigger than Barbie-size.
August 1, 2010 – Globalgayz.com
Gay Games 2010 opens in Cologne with Color and Controversy’
Cologne, Germany – The XVIII Gay Games opened last night with rousing cheers for 9000 athletes from dozens of countries as they marched into the huge RheinEnergies stadium in Cologne. Spirits were high, the torch was lit, the rainbow flag was raised and colorful lights splashed on the arena floor as hundreds of dancers, musicians, fire-dancers and celebrity singers entertained the crowd of about 25,000. Popular gay icon Taylor Dane sang her new song ‘Facing a Miracle‘, dedicated to the Gay Games. Swedish Idol winner Agnes Carlsson also filled the air with her singing.
The day had begun at noon with a symbolic Frontrunners run-jog-walk along the Rhine River–led by the aging yet spirited Frontrunners founder Brent Earle–to the AIDS memorial at Markmanngasse where names of the deceased are carved into cobblestones. A small memorial quilt was unfolded reverently by German Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Located nearby, facing the river, is the marble sculpture dedicated to the memory of homosexuals persecuted and killed by the Nazis.
That night, after welcoming speeches by the Games Games co-chairs Annette Wachter and Michael Lohaus and the mayor of Cologne, Jurgen Roters, the audience listened to choral and orchestral music including a rousing excerpt from Beethoven’s 9th symphony with its Ode to Joy. Matthew Mitchum, the openly gay Olympic gold medal diver from Australia, read aloud the traditional athletes’ pledge of inclusion, participation and personal best in the games including a commitment to respect and fair play.
But it was not all joyful celebration. There were two separate moments of silence, the first in remembrance of the young people who died recently at the Love Parade in Duisberg, Germany, where hundreds of young party-goers trapped in an access tunnel panicked and stampeded which crushed a dozen people to death. The entire Gay Games stadium went silent. A while later there was another silent remembrance, this one for people taken by AIDS.
Another joyless moment occurred when the German Foreign Minister, openly gay Guido Westerweld, was introduced and walked to the podium accompanied by booing and whistling from some Germans. Foreign participants in the audience were perplexed by the greeting. Despite the hazing the minister pushed on with his speech which acknowledged the Love Parade deaths and decried the persecution of LGBT people in repressive societies where religion is used to justify persecution and execution of gays: "religion is never an excuse for murder… torture and persecution are not cultural values, they are the opposite." The speech was powerful and brought a standing ovation from many guests in the stadium.
In an interview the next day with GlobalGayz, three native Cologne lesbians spoke about the speech and the person of Minister Westerweld and his reception. In their opinion, as a national politician he does not have an active history of advocating for pro-gay legislation and is a reluctant gay public figure. As a result many LGBT Germans feel he is not deeply committed to the LGBT community and only ‘riding the coat-tails’ of the movement that has powerfully emerged in recent years in Germany. The three women also said he is disliked because of his libertarian social views. Many lesbians do not approve of his ideas against social programs (that benefit less privileged citizens) since many lesbians are not high wage earners and need some help with medical care and social security benefits. "He has been an ‘absent’ member of our community and we don’t like that…and his political ideas make him unpopular. He sometimes stirs up problems because his lack of diplomacy in public appearances… We were surprised he was invited to speak and it was not unexpected that he would receive some disapproval. It was our way of letting him know about our opinion…"
Nevertheless, the next day the aggravation passed as athletes focused on their sports performances and less on politics. Across the city–except for sailing that is being held in Roermond, Holland–thousands of participants began very different competitions, ranging from quiet bridge card playing and billiards to loud sports shooting to hyper-active volleyball and intense swimming. Matthew Mitchum appeared at the swimming venue to give a pep talk and cheer on the nearly 1000 swimmers.
At the end of the day, medal winners could be seen walking around town in the bustling Newmarkt plaza where music and food combined to create a carnival-like energized community spirit, especially at the WomenPlace venue where catered hot dishes, drinks, activities, flirting and talking combined into very supportive atmosphere. It was a grand opening to the world’s biggest and proudest LGBT event.
August 12, 2010 – PinkNews
Gay German foreign minister does not take partner to anti-gay countries
by Christopher Brocklebank
German vice-chancellor and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has stated that he does not take along his partner when making diplomatic trips to countries in which homosexuality is punishable by law.
Mr Westewller, 48, was speaking to Bunte magazine last week when he pointed out that a amount of countries outlaw homosexual acts – up to 75 worldwide. He added, "We want to promote tolerance in the world [and] I think it is important that we live by our own standards of tolerance and that we do not sometimes adopt less tolerant standards as our own". He also added that he didn’t want to achieve the opposite of tolerance by "acting thoughtlessly".
Mr Westerwelle, who came out at Chancellor Merkel‘s 50th birthday party in 2004, has stated that he has never felt at a disadvantage diplomatically because of his sexuality. He has visited Yemen and Saudi Arabia on affairs of state, countries in which gay and lesbian acts are capital offences, as they are in Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, Somalia and Nigeria.
August 17, 2010 – Reuters
German court backs gay rights on inheritance tax
by Diana Niedernhoefer
Karlsruhe Germany (Reuters) – Germany’s highest court has ruled a law which makes homosexuals living in civil partnerships pay higher inheritance tax is unconstitutional. The Federal Constitutional Court said there were no legal grounds for taxing gay people who lost their partner differently from heterosexual married couples, and gave the government until 2011 to compensate those subject to the previous rules.
The Karlsruhe-based court said on Tuesday the fact that heterosexual marriage could produce children did not justify higher taxation for homosexuals over inheritance. Germany has permitted civil unions for homosexuals since 2001. According to the law, surviving partners had to pay higher inheritance duties, and were also granted a lower tax exemption threshold than their heterosexual counterparts.
Depending on the inheritance, homosexuals have been subject to a rate of taxation that could be up to 20 percentage points higher than heterosexual widows or widowers. The thresholds were evened out in 2008, though so far the government has only put forward a draft bill to render both sets of couples equal before the law on taxation, the court said.
It was responding to an appeal lodged by a man and a woman whose respective partners had died in 2001 and 2002. Germany’s LSVD lesbian and gay association welcomed the decision, but said the job was not done yet. "Lawmakers must now act as quickly as possible to ensure there is complete equality on income tax and provisioning for civil servants," spokesman Manfred Bruns said in a statement.
"It’s against our constitution for civil partnerships to be put at a disadvantage compared to married couples," he added.
(Writing by Dave Graham)
August 27, 2010 – PinkNews
A year on from Tel Aviv shootings, young survivors visit Berlin memorial
by Christopher Brocklebank
A year after the shootings at a Tel Aviv LGBT youth centre in which two young people died, over a dozen teenagers who were present at the attack have undertaken an organised trip to Germany. The trip, which took place this week, was organised by the German organisation Maneo, as part of a campaign to support Tel Aviv’s gay community after last year’s fatal attack.
During the trip, the young delegates met with Berlin police officials and members of the local LGBT community. On Wednesday, Maneo held a memorial service for the two young people killed in the attack – Nir Katz and Liz Trubishi – near Berlin’s monument commemorating the gay and lesbian victims of the Nazi regime. Nir Katz’s mother, Ayala, who was part of the delegation, said her son visited Berlin a number of times and was extremely touched by the monument in memory of those murdered by the Third Reich.
She added: "I wait for the day when everyone understands that all people are human beings. Only idiots murder people for who they are." Of the young delegates who was present at the time of the shootings said: "The mere fact we are here, together, united once again, more than a year after [the attack], sends a message of triumph. We see this visit as a symbolic event, the complete opposite from the attack."
However, a Berlin official noted that his city had its own problems related to violence against LGBT people. He added that just because the city’s mayor was openly gay, it didn’t mean problems with homophobia were a thing of the past. These issues are also being addressed by Maneo. Director Bastian Finke said: "We run anti-racism programs in schools, which include workshops where students create signs and posters against homophobia."
He also added that Maneo seeks to encourage police to take seriously attacks on members of the gay community. He said: "For the past 18 years, Berlin’s police have been employing special officers that deal with complaints related to homophobia-related attacks." Police in Berlin must report homophobic cases to the central authority, which preserves the German constitution. "This way," added Mr Finke, "we send a message to the public that homophobia threatens the democratic foundations of Germany."
September 8, 2010 – PinkNews
Travel: Going gay at the Oktoberfest
by JD Van Zyl
“In Minchen steht ein Hofbräuhaus,” the oompah band bellows from the stage in the middle of the beer tent. The thousands of guys around me, arms linked, beer mugs clutched tightly and swaying to the beat of course, join in: “Eins, zwei, g’suffa”. Welcome to the Oktoberfest’s Gay Sunday. It is barely noon, but we’ve been at the Bräurosl tent for over two hours and I have already seen the bottom of three beer mugs, known locally as a “masskruge”. “How will I ever keep this up for another eight hours?,” I think to myself. You see, not only do the Oktoberfest mugs hold a massive one litre of the special Oktoberfestbier – that’s nearly two pints! – it also has a significantly higher alcohol content than what I am used to back home, measuring in at an impressive 6%.
Cause for a celebration
Contrary to its name, the world’s largest folk festival actually kicks off in the middle of September and lasts until the first Sunday in October. In 2010 an additional day is added to the festival because it is a special celebratory year. Munich’s mayor will open the Oktoberfest for its 200th anniversary on 18 September in the traditional manner, by tapping the first keg using a wooden hammer and then shouting “O’zapft is!”, as in “it is tapped”.
For the 16 days that follow, until 4 October, the Theresienwiese fairground will be a riot of mug-clunking, beer-swilling and sausage gobbling action as more than six million visitors flock here. During that time a staggering seven million litres of beer (that’s nearly three Olympic swimming pools filled with the brew) will be gulped down and around 300,000 pork sausages guzzled. It’s not for the faint hearted.
The very first Oktoberfest took place when Bavarian crown prince Ludwig married princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12th October 1810. As part of the celebrations Munich’s residents were invited to join in the festivities, which were held just outside the city gates in the fields named Theresienwiese (Therese’s fields) in the bride’s honour. Officially the fields have kept their name, but the locals have since shortened it simply to “Wiesn”.
Although the fourteen local breweries’ beer tents form the mainstay of the Oktoberfest, there is plenty more to keep visitors entertained – including death-defying roller coasters and rides (not recommended after you’ve had more than one mass beer, I can add on good personal authority), stalls mostly selling traditional German knickknacks and an agricultural fair.
Going at it the gay way
If you are anything like the some 8,000 gay men surrounding me at the moment, however, it is unlikely you will venture much further outside than the entrance to the Bräurosl beer tent. The Bavarian brew is clearly a social lubricant of undisputed success. Take the tanned and handsome Swiss boy across the table from me, for example. Minutes ago he ripped the sleeves off his traditionally chequered shirt with his bare teeth to better exhibit his chiselled biceps. Or the two lads from Nuremberg near the entrance, both dressed in snug-fitting lederhosen, dancing shirtless on the table to the tune of Heidi.
The Gay Sunday in the Bräurosl tent is hands down the biggest gay attraction in Munich after Pride, but it is by no means the only. Several other events are scheduled for the two weeks that follow the opening of the festival. Most notable is the RoslMontag on Monday 20 September from 15:00 in the Bräurosl tent and the Prosecco-Wiesn from 13:00 on Monday 27 September in the Frischer Vroni tent.
A breath of fresh air
Not sure you’ll be able to maintain your momentum of indulging in Bavaria’s finest? Keen on some solid R&R to nurse your mammoth hangover? Then look no further than Berchtesgadener Land. Situated one and a half hours from Munich near the Austrian border and bang in the heart of the Alps, this is as jaw-droppingly spectacular a destination as Europe can serve up. Especially the Königssee Lake is well deserving of a visit. Surrounded by towering Alpine peaks, the narrow fjord-like lake stretches for 8km into the narrow valley. If you have enough energy, consider hiring a rowing boat and heading out towards the picturesque Catholic pilgrim’s church of St. Bartholomew – one of the most popular images on German postcards. Alternatively you can also hop onto one of the electric boats which depart from the village every 30 minutes.
There is much more to the Freistaat Bayern than just beer, but there can be no doubt that the Bavarians take their “liquid bread” very seriously indeed. If you needed anymore proof of that you’d simply have to take in your surrounds in the Lufthansa business class lounge.
In March 2010 Lufthansa created a traditional beer garden in cooperation with Munich’s Franziskaner brewery, where visitors can relax and admire the panoramic Alpine backdrop. This beer garden, which has been integrated in the refurbished Business Lounge in the Schengen departures area, comes complete with traditional beer tables, draught beer tapped from the barrel and Bavarian pretzels. Ask the waitress to skip the oompah CD forward to “In Minchen steht ein Hofbräuhaus”, have another beer and do you best to remember exactly what happened in the Bräurosl tent.
September 18, 2010 – OnTop Magazine
Germany’s Gay Power Couple Of Guido Westerwelle, Michael Mronz ‘Marry’
by On Top Magazine Staff
German tabloid Bild is reporting that Guido Westerwelle, the country’s openly gay foreign minister, has “married” his 43-year-old partner, event manager Michael Mronz. With the headline Secret Wedding, the paper reported that the couple entered a civil partnership in Westerwelle’s home town of Bonn on Friday. The ceremony was presided over by Bonn Mayor Juergen Nimptsch and only close friends and family attended, the newspaper said.
Civil partnerships offer gay and lesbian couples some but not all the rights of marriage. According to media accounts, the two men met in 2003 and were first seen together attending Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 50th birthday party in 2004. The couple has been crowned a “power couple” by Germany’s media. Westerwelle, the 48-year-old leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, was appointed foreign minister last year.
A spokesman for the Free Democrats reportedly has confirmed the report, but would not comment any further. Other high-profile, openly gay politicians in Germany include Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and former Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust. Westerwelle presided over last month’s opening ceremony for the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne’s RheinEnergie Stadium.
02 October2010 – DW World
Gay rights movement in Germany follows path of reunification
As Germany celebrates the 20th anniversary of reunification, the former East-West divide in the country’s gay and lesbian rights movement has all but disappeared. There is currently close cooperation between gay and lesbian activists in the eastern and western states, according to Eduard Stapel, founder of several gay rights groups in former East Germany. Unlike the United States, where gay rights vary widely from state to state, the legal rights of gays and lesbians are virtually the same in the East and West.
"That’s apart from the fact that we’ve made slightly more progress in eastern Germany, with discrimination bans in the Berlin, Brandenburg and Thuringia state constitutions," Stapel told Deutsche Welle. "But that has little effect on everyday life." Social acceptance of homosexuality is also roughly the same in eastern and western states, according to a 2001 study by the opinion research group TNS Emnid. The study found that nearly the same percentage of people in the East as in the West say homosexuality is no longer objectionable. The highest percentage of acceptance was in Berlin, while the lowest was in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Gay life in former East Germany
While there is very little documentation of gay life in former East Germany, a unique exception is the 1989 film "Coming Out." It follows a young teacher in East Berlin struggling to accept his gay identity, and was the first and only gay-themed film produced in East Germany. It also won the second-place Silver Bear prize in the 1990 Berlin Film Festival. The film’s premiere was coincidentally held on November 9, 1989, the same night East German authorities opened the border to the West and people from across Germany began to tear down the Berlin Wall.
Matthias Freihof, who played the protagonist Phillip, said when he was first offered the leading role in the film, he knew it would be a major boost to his career. The director, Heiner Carow, was one of the most well-known and respected directors in all of East Germany. What Freihof did not anticipate was the long-lasting effect "Coming Out" would have on gay cinema. "I’m on the way to different festivals almost every year," he told Deutsche Welle. "This is very astonishing for me, that this film still has the power to entertain people, to pull them into the story."
"Coming Out" was made at a time of huge political upheaval in all of eastern Europe, just as the East German gay and lesbian community was becoming more visible. The first gay-themed theater production, a growing number of books and resources on homosexuality all marked the beginnings of an organized gay rights movement. "There was a kind of liberation coming up in the early 80s, so the step to do a film about this subject was clear," Freihof said. "But the officials didn’t like the idea, of course, because they knew about the subject, but they didn’t want to make a big thing out of it."