Resistance is forming in Berlin against Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit in September. On Thursday evening, more than 50 opponents gathered at the Berlin headquarters of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Association for a first "network meeting". Among others, members of the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party, the service sector union Verdi, the organization Pro Familia and the church-critical Giordano Bruno Foundation took part.
They discussed protest actions before and during the Pope's visit to the German capital. With "imaginative actions" the opponents of the Pope want to stand up for "sexual self-determination" and women's rights. They also criticize the Catholic Church's position on AIDS and call for a strict separation of church and state. They also condemn the invitation to the pope to address the Bundestag. The LSVD coordinates further action. The sponsoring association of Christopher Street Day, which organizes the annual parade of lesbians and gays in Berlin, promised organizational help.
The events are to be held mainly after the summer break and, if possible, not to compete with Berlin's parliamentary elections, which take place on 18. September a few days before the papal visit takes place. As a form of protest came, among other things, the suggestion that Benedict XVI. in the case of an overnight stay in the Apostolic Nunciature in the morning at 6 o'clock by a "Kiss In" to wake up, which there was also with the attendance Benedikt XVI. in Barcelona last November. Protesters kiss each other at about the signal from a whistle.
No religious feelings hurt
The question of how far Catholic lesbian and gay initiatives should be included was controversial. LSVD spokesman Gunter Dworek turned "against actions that hurt religious feelings". The Pope's opponents should also "go into the areas of Catholics who are critical of the Church" instead of "alienating the people of the Church," Dworek said. He is also a speaker for anti-discrimination policy in the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag.
Benedict XVI. comes from the 22. to 25. September to an official visit to Germany. On the way, he will visit the archdioceses of Berlin and Freiburg as well as the diocese of Erfurt.
Already during the visit of Pope John Paul II. 15 years ago in Berlin there were protests, for example at the gay and lesbian city festival in the district of Schoneberg. In addition, a demonstration with over 2.000 participants took place, who dressed up as nuns, monks or devils and proclaimed a "counter-papacy". At the time, they marched from Schoneberg's Winterfeldtplatz towards the Brandenburg Gate, which was a stop on the Pope's visit. At the State Library, the procession ended early with a rally. Nevertheless, there were also protests, some of them loud, along the pope's ride on the street Unter den Linden, with eggs thrown at the Popemobile.