Attacks on LGBTI rights

Experiences of discrimination are part of everyday life for lesbian, gay, and transgender people. We spoke to Ralk Gion Fröhlich, deputy federal president of LiSL (Liberal Gay and Lesbian Organisation) and president of the European umbrella organisation, LGBTI Liberals of Europe, about his activism against intolerance and discrimination. #ClapForCrap: Ralf, you’re a campaigner for the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and intersexual people. Is that actually still an important issue in Germany, now that same-sex marriage is legal in Germany? Ralf Gion Fröhlich: It would be great if it were no longer an important issue. But we’re not there yet, unfortunately. Experiences of discrimination are still a part of everyday life, including discrimination by the state. This includes the issue of IVF treatment for lesbian women or equal treatment and protection for children in LGBT families. #ClapForCrap: One gets the feeling that, despite everything, society is taking a step backwards again where the rights of gay and lesbian people are concerned, particularly internationally. Why is that? Ralf Gion Fröhlich: If you analyse who the leading campaigners against LGBTI rights are in countries like Croatia, Romania, Poland, and even Ireland, you keep coming across the same three protagonists. First, there’s the Catholic Church, not in the shape of individual conservative dignitaries, but as an institution. It stubbornly insists on describing same-sex marriage as a danger to society. Then there’s Russia, which not only heavily targets the queer community in its own country by its ‘propaganda law’, but also tries to influence other countries. Russia is supported in this by nationalist movements in different countries, such as the National Rally in France or the AfD in Germany.

There’s no question that we still have a lot to do. But at least we have also accomplished quite a few things here that are worth defending.

#ClapForCrap: What is the extent of the social pressure today? Ralf Gion Fröhlich: It depends greatly on the social environment. In the big cities, there is not much discrimination. There, we easily get 80 people turning up to our Gay Daddies meets. But in more conservative circles, even coming out is a big step, because you can’t be sure that your family will react with an open mind. To this day, suicide rates among young LGBTI people continue to be well above average. And it is not unusual for young people from conservative or religious families to end up on the streets if they confide in their parents. #ClapForCrap: That all sounds grim. Doesn’t that make you think about emigrating every now and then? Ralf Gion Fröhlich: No, that would mean that the opponents of equal treatment had won. But apart from that, we should acknowledge what has been achieved in recent years and decades in Europe in particular. For LGBTI people all over the world, most of whom unfortunately still live in LGBTI hell, the EU is a place of longing: we should never forget that. And it makes me feel proud to see the EU include minimum standards for dealing with LGBTI issues in economic negotiations with, for instance, Georgia. There’s no question that we still have a lot to do. But at least we have also accomplished quite a few things here that are worth defending.