GERMAN GOVERNMENT TURNS A BLIND EYE, DESPITE PUBLIC SUPPORT

Insight into the structure of the German LGBTI-pride events has been granted through a nationally reaching research project undertaken by Patrick van der Pas, secretary of the Human Rights Committee of InterPride. Information was gathered via observations, interviews, and surveys, which were conducted among attendees and non-attendees of the national CSD Bundestreffen, the yearly national meeting of the German LGBTI-prides.

GERMAN VERSION

Most of the German LGBTI-prides have a demonstration that is often accompanied by street festivals, music performances and screenings of educational, LGBTI-related, movies. But what exactly is the role of the German government in this?

All LGBTI-prides in Germany operate under a single national platform, called Christopher Street Day (CSD). During Christopher Street Day, most of the organizations have a demonstration. As informed via interview and as noted on a number of the surveys distributed, the term demonstration is used by the organizers because of the political value their events have. Accordingly, this article will furthermore refer to German LGBTI-pride events either as CSD’s or demonstrations.

What can be seen is that almost all organizations experience support from the local government when setting up the demonstration. This support is evidenced through the permits granted by local municipalities. Considering the intrinsic political value of the LGBTI-prides, which therefore are demonstrations, an important note needs to be made. The local municipalities are legally required to provide permits for demonstrations and, therefore, could hardly refuse a permit proposal by a Christopher Street Day organization.

At 70% of the demonstrations, security and public safety assistance is provided. The freedom of demonstration, Demonstrationsfreiheit, gives the demonstrators the right to be protected by the police, so it is remarkable that this is not provided in all cases. Also remarkable to see is that still almost 12% experience active opposition by the local government when organizing a demonstration. There is a lot of support in German society for the LGBTI-movement.

The biggest group that participates in the demonstrations is the public, followed by political parties. This could be seen as quite ironic given these political parties will eventually end up in either local, provincial or national government, where almost no support is to be found. However, the aim of this research did not include the distinguishing of political parties and therefore, it is not possible to conclude that the same political parties that participate in the demonstrations are also the political parties who have a voice concerning municipality or nation. The next largest groups of participants in the demonstrations are companies and foundations, which are barely represented at the demonstrations.

The support of the public can also be noticed when looking at the budgetary composition of the Christopher Street Days. A whopping 75% of the CSD’s are financially supported by corporate sponsorship. In almost 10% of the CSD’s, more than 50% to 75% of the budget is corporate-sponsored. In more than 6% of the CSD’s, corporate sponsors provide as much as 75% to 100% of the total budget. All CSD’s receive donations from private citizens, in 80% of the cases, this accounted for up to 25% of the budget. At more than 6% of the CSD’s, more than 50% of the budget is accounted for via private donations.

When one looks at the financial support provided by the German government, an entirely different pattern emerges. Beginning with the local level of government, 47% of the CSD’s do not receive any financial support from their municipality. Of the 53% that do, 35% receive up to 25% of the budget and not even 18% receive between 25% and 50% of their budget from their local government. Looking toward provincial support, we see that an astounding 70% do not receive any financial support. 24% receive up to a maximum of 25% of their total budget and not even 6% receives up to a maximum of 50% of their budget via provincial support. When one examines nationwide financial support, it is, unfortunately, the case that not a single Christopher Street Day receives any financial support from the national government. Furthermore, there is a notable lack of interest on the part of the government when it comes to participation in the events themselves. The (local) government was seen to participate in only 31,5% of the demonstrations or other CSD activities.

How can it be that millions of people across the whole nation of Germany show their solidarity with the LGBTI-community and yet the government does not react? The support that is provided by the government, whether local, provincial or national, is mainly support enshrined and codified in the German law books. It is these same law books that could provide the LGBTI community in Germany the same rights as its non-LGBTI citizens. The question, then, is when will the Bundestag really begin ensuring and promoting equal rights?