Article Title:Obituary: Guido Westerwalle: (1961 -2016)
Category:People
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:22nd March 2016 - 04:21 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:18085
Text:Although Germany still forbids marriage equality, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Vice Chancellor for her first two terms, Guido Westerwalle, leader of the Free Democrats, was an out gay man. Westerwalle died recently, so it's time for this obituary. Westerwelle was born in Bad Honnef, Northwest Westphalia. He graduated from the Ernst Moritz Arndt Gymnasium (high school) in 1980, then went on to study law at Bonn University (1981-1987). Following State Law Examinations, he began practising as a lawyer in Bonn (1991). In 1994, he received a doctoral degree from FernUniversitat Hagen. By then, the Berlin Wall had been torn down and Germany was finally reunified in 1991 after decades of Cold War partition. In 1990, Westerwalle also joined the Free Democrat Party and was one of the founding members of its Young Liberals youth subsidiary. In 1994, he was appointed to the party executive and won a Bundestag seat in 1996. In 2001, Westerwalle also became FDP party chair. Until 2002, he adopted an equidistance polling, presenting itself as a potential coalition partner for both the major Christian Democratic Union and Social Democrat Party of Germany (SPD), and succeeded in lifting party polling to 9.8 percentage points in most opinion polls. As parliamentary caucus leader of the FDP, he refocused the party on tax cuts, educational access and civil liberties and human rights to achieve increased opinion poll standing. In 2009, this strategy enabled the FDP to claim fifteen percent of the total German national vote, enabling it to go into coalition with Merkel's CDU and enabling his appointment as Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister. Unfortunately, this honeymoon didn't last for long, due primarily to a leaked Wikileaks US State Department cable describing Westerwalle as a 'poor' foreign minister and not as widely respected as his predecessor. Unfortunately for him, he also presided over the collapse of the FDP voter share in states such as Bremen and Rhineland-Palatinate, plunging below MMP's German four percent list only threshold. During his time as German Foreign Minister, Westerwalle attracted criticism over negotiating with Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad over the release of German hostages held in Iran (2011). He also visited Palestinian Gaza (2010), expressed concern about China's treatment of dissident Ai Weiwei (2011), and visited a Jordanian camp to learn about the plight of Syrian refugees from that nation's civil war (2012). In 2013, he also sided with the Ukraine over Russian encroachment on its territory and the annexation of Crimea. He also backed reform efforts in Libya and Egypt, and protested over vandalism of the German embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. He also supported nonproliferation efforts in Europe and the reduction of remaining nuclear armaments in Germany. He has been openly critical of human rights violations in Belarus, a Russian Republic ally and supported the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel. As far as political philosophy went, Westerwalle supported a free market economy and weakened industrial relations protections for German workers, tax cuts and reduced scale central government. He also supported adoption law liberalisation, although Germany permits both individual LGBT adoption as well as coparent adoption for the partners of biological lesbian and gay parents. He also supported stronger data protection laws to enhance German civil liberties. Until his death, Westerwalle was in a long-term relationship with Michael Mronz. Mronz accompanied him to Chancellor Angela Merkel's fiftieth birthday party in 2004. He later signed a registered partnership in 2010 in Bonn and Mronz accompanied him on trips overseas, although not to antigay nations. In 2014, it was reported that Westerwalle was suffering from leukaemia. On March 18, 2016, it was announced that Westerwalle had passed away at a Cologne hospital due to complications related to his treatment. After leaving government in 2013 after the final collapse of the Free Democrat voter share, he had set up the Westerwalle Foundation to push for democratic and economic liberalisation. His legacy includes the successful conclusion of an Iranian nuclear restraint deal, of which he was a prime instigator. Recommended: Guido Westerwalle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_ Westerwalle "Germany: Ex-Foreign Minister Guido Westerwalle Dies at 54" New York Times: 18.03.2016: http://www.nytimes.com/ aponline/2016/03/18/world/ europe/ap-eu-germany-obit- westerwelle.html?_r=0 [Graphic: Guido Westerwalle: 1961-2016]     Craig Young - 22nd March 2016
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