Dear Neighbors to the North, The first six months of 2015 are behind us. During this time, the Flemish press has of course written about homosexuality. Here follows a selection, ideal for reading material at a holiday destination of your choice.
“I didn’t think for one millisecond that he could be gay. The fact that we don’t know when this started and what caused it is on our minds.” (Court testimony by the brother of a murdered 58-year-old gay man, from the “Nieuwsblad”)
“Bonny wants to send all gays to hell.” (Response of the Catholic Pro Familia Association after the Antwerp bishop Johan Bonny asked for more respect for homosexuals, from “De Standaard”)
“He did nothing in my house. He stood there smoking in front of my door in the sun and was playing with his cell phone. I wasn’t happy, had to pay him four hours, and asked him to leave. He refused to do so, after which I resorted to foul language. I do not want gays in my house, indeed, if they do not do their job.” (A 42-year-old disabled man from Eeklo tries to defend himself in front of a court for insulting a gay cleaner. He was fined 300 Euros with delay, from the “Nieuwsblad”)
“More than fifty percent of Belgian Muslims is a fundamentalist and mistrust Jews and gays.” (One of the conclusions from a European study by the Berlin Center for Social Science, from “De Morgen”)
“I’m gay myself, but I am against gay marriage.” (Florian Philippot, number two on the list for the French extreme right party Front National, from “De Standaard”)
“Everyone has the right to be who they are. But do they really need to show that everywhere, for example with a rainbow flag? Why is it that everything that is outside the norm, still needs to be highlighted? Maybe I’m still a bit old-fashioned when it comes to that, but the norm is a bit different nowadays.” (Koen D’Haenens (N-VA party) of the municipality Denderleeuw on the refusal to hang a rainbow flag on a building of the municipality for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, on www.dewereldmorgen.be)
“Discrimination and the repression of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have severe consequences. Such discrimination hinders campaigns on HIV prevention and access to treatment, which leads to a continued spreading of HIV and other STDs.” (Belgian Federal Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Alexander De Croo at a speech for the UN Commission on Population and Development in New York, on www.holebi.info)
“Sweden has convinced me that we have to keep the fire in the gay emancipation fight burning.” (The 22-year-old Flemish student Fernand Van Damme studies digital media in Stockholm and shares his views on the emancipation battle that gay people in Belgium need to keep fighting, as the battle is not over by a long shot, in “De Morgen”)
“They were shouting ‘Gay Deschacht’ in every stadium, but that didn’t make any sense. I would have been much more horrified if they had chanted ‘Deschacht is a bad soccer player.’” (Anderlecht soccer player Olivier Deschacht, in an interview with www.voetbalkrant.com on the occasion of his 500th match for Anderlecht)
“I was gay and wanted to leave Belgium as soon as possible, as homosexuality was a huge taboo in those days. They were more liberal in the USA, and a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was HIV positive, and in the 1980s that meant a limited life expectancy. When two men wanted to have sex with me, I shot them. That is why I am in prison for a double murder.” (Haunting testimony of the Flemish Rudy X in the TV program “Alloo in de Buitenlandse Gevangenis,” who is serving out a life sentence in a foreign prison. In this program, TV maker Luc Alloo visits Belgians who are locked up in foreign prisons.