Last week, Germany’s Guido Westerwelle, Europe’s first openly gay foreign minister, said he would not take his partner along on official trips to countries where homosexuality is a prosecutable crime. Westerwelle, who is also Germany’s vice-chancellor, told the magazine Bunte that it is important that he and his partner “live according to our own measures of tolerance and that we do not adopt the sometimes less tolerant measures of others.” At the same time, he and his partner wish to “promote the concept of tolerance in the world … but do not want to achieve the opposite by behaving imprudently.” This strategy of problem avoidance became apparent when Mr Westerwelle made official visits to Yemen and Saudi Arabia and left his partner back in Berlin.
It is understandable that Mr Westerwelle does not wish to be reduced to his sexuality. As the German foreign minister, he cannot allow his sexuality to stand in the way of healthy foreign relations for his country. However, traveling without his partner, and thus shunning the subject altogether, will not make him any more nor less gay. Nor will it change the way his host countries will perceive – or treat – him. So while the German Republic places the promotion of human rights at the core of its foreign policy, the foreign minister himself is exhibiting a strange tolerance towards the intolerant of this world. » More