Berlin Arabic mag sparks outrage by labelling gays as diseased
Published: 15 Aug 08 11:55 CET | Print version
Two sensitive subjects have crashed into each other in Berlin, with a row over an article in a German Arabic language magazine warning readers that shaking the hands of gay men can transmit diseases.
The article, in the free magazine al-Salam which is distributed to restaurants and cafes around the German capital, is couched in pseudo-scientific language, and accompanied with graphic photos of skin diseases.
Titled "A flesh-eating bacteria and sexual abnormality," the article claims that gay men are hit by deadly diseases and that Muslim "brothers" should not shake their hands as “one never knows what kind of bacteria and germs are found on them.”
The Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg (LSVD) reported the article to the police this week, spokesman Alexander Zinn told The Local.
“We have reported it as a crime to the police and it is now being examined to determine whether it should be dealt with as defamation or incitement,” he said.
The LSVD has long reported homophobia from Germany's Muslim, largely Turkish community, yet Zinn said protesting against it, or trying to bring the subject into the public arena is fraught with difficulty.
Criticising attitudes of the Turkish or Arab communities is often equated with a racist attack, he said.
“We would appeal to the more liberal parts of the community to help us with this, and we also need the engagement of the integration representative of the city senate," he said. "This is one of many signs of something that keeps on coming up. Something needs to be done and we need to work together to try to tackle the problem.”
The complexity of the problem is illustrated by the reaction from the organization of Turkish gays and lesbians, Gladt eV whose spokesman Koray Yilmaz-Günay told Der Spiegel he saw homophobia as a broad social problem rather than a specifically Muslim one.
Hannah Cleaver (email@example.com)
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