All people are different, and they love in different ways, but in this diversity, they deserve equal rights and equal respect.
The op-ed has been written by Omid Nouripour, the spokesperson on international relations of the Alliance 90/The Greens and the Chair of the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Group of the Bundestag, together with Manuel Sarrazin, the spokesperson on Eastern European policy of the Alliance 90/The Greens. It was first published in Ukrainian on the website of Novoye Vremia media outlet.
As friends of Ukraine — one of us is Chair of the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Friendship Group; the other is the Alliance 90/The Greens spokesperson on Eastern Europe — we have been following the formation of the cross-party group “Values. Dignity. Family” in the Rada and its agenda with great interest here in Germany. We are looking forward to seeing how the group works and would welcome an interparliamentary dialogue on this topic. On matters of social and family policy, our position as Greens is clear: it is based on human rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. For us, anti-discrimination, women’s rights and the protection of minorities are not optional extras but the foundation of democracy and the European community of values. Every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights.
Under the German constitution, “Marriage and the family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.” Germany’s Basic Law does not say that marriage is a union between a man and a woman; in that sense, it differs from the Ukrainian constitution. Although the provisions of our respective constitutions may differ in their wording here, the social debates in our two countries — with all their stigmas and prejudices — were and are still similar in tone. German society had a long and arduous journey towards more equality between women and men, gays and heterosexuals, and there is still a long road ahead. For us, the authors, it is an article of faith that every person, man or woman, is equal in rights and responsibilities and that love, above all — not gender or sexual identity — is the basis for human relationships and therefore also for family life. Love makes a family.
The family is where people form close bonds, where they learn from each other, where children are cherished and grow up into self-confident adults, and where the elderly are supported in the final stage of their lives. For us, family is wherever people take responsibility for one another. Family is wherever there is love. In Germany, the number of children living in same-sex families — rainbow families, as we call them — is steadily increasing. More people are also making a conscious choice to start a family, and the number of families in which gay and lesbian couples are getting together to support each other, with several people sharing the responsibility of raising and caring for the children, is growing. All these diverse forms of family make our country freer and more attractive. Not only are they in line with our constitution: they embody its very essence. They pose absolutely no threat to the traditional family; on the contrary, they strengthen the idea of family within our society. These modern forms of family reinforce the message that everyone is different and there are different forms of love, but everyone deserves the same respect and equal rights in their diversity.
Germany’s membership of the EU was and is critical to this development: much of the impetus towards equality and against discrimination has come from the EU. Without the EU’s anti-discrimination directives, Germany would not have succeeded in pushing through the General Equal Treatment Act. The EU’s goal of creating an area of freedom, security and justice therefore has a direct bearing on anti-discrimination policy.
Much of the impetus towards equality has come from the EU
Our community of values also has a responsibility to combat violence against women and partner abuse. Germany has ratified the Istanbul Convention, which aims to improve protection against violence and help end discrimination against women everywhere in Europe. One would think that in Europe, there would be a consensus on protecting women from violence. We are therefore concerned to see opposition to the Convention’s ratification in Ukraine. As friends of Ukraine and partners in Ukraine’s move towards closer links with the EU, we remain convinced that ending violence against women and ending discrimination based on gender or sexual identity must continue to be our shared goal. The ratification of the Istanbul Convention is an essential and overdue step on Ukraine’s journey towards the EU.
We look forward to the German-Ukrainian interparliamentary dialogue on values, dignity and family and hence on anti-discrimination, women’s rights and protection of minorities — within the framework of human rights and the European community of values.