Gay political leader pledges to cut German aid to homophobic countries
An openly gay politician in Germany has said that if he is appointed Foreign Minister next year he will cut aid to countries that discriminate against women or sexual minorities.
Guido Westerwelle is leader of Germany’s opposition Free Democrats and the current Leader of the Opposition in the Bundestag.
His party, which is centre-right but socially libertarian, is expected to take a junior coalition role in Angela Merkel’s government after next year’s general election.
The position of Foreign Minister normally goes to the leader of the junior coalition party.
The next German Federal Elections are scheduled for September 27th, 2009.
Ms Merkel’s CDU is expected to be retain power.
If chosen Mr Westerwelle, 46, would be the first out homosexual Foreign Minister in German history.
“The great majority of the population has absolutely no problem with my private life,” he told Stern.
“It would be good if our foreign policy would bring this spirit of German tolerance to other countries.”
Mr Westerwelle effectively came out at Angela Merkel’s 50th birthday party in July 2004, when he brought along his partner to an official function for the first time.
He is more controversial in Germany for his views on lower taxes, a smaller state and cutting back the benefits system than for his sexual orientation.
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Gay activist Peter Tatchell recently called for all international aid to be stopped for, “viciously homophobic countries like Jamaica, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Iraq and Nigeria.”
The UK government is opposed to cutting aid.
International Development minister Gareth Thomas told PinkNews.co.uk:
“I do not think you should penalise the people of a country for policies that are not appropriate.
“We need to continue to engage with countries and be willing to raise difficult issues with them.
“We have to help them with those issues, as well as being blunt on occasion about issues around AIDS.”