The Ambassador's partner was subjected to verbal harassment and threats in the street and threats. These began after a local magazine wrote that the appointment of a gay Ambassador with a black partner had to be seen as a Dutch provocation.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs had hoped that Estonia, like its neighbour Finland, would be able to accept a relationship between two men. According to a report by the US Embassy in the capital Tallinn there have been nine cases of threats made to non-white embassy staff, mostly by Neo-Nazis or skinheads.
In a personal statement, quoted by the NRC, Glaubitz indicated the behaviour of the Estonian government was beyond reproach as his partner was treated well on an official level.
The treatment by members of the Estonian public was another matter. "[Estonian] society is far from ready for two men, particularly if one of them is black," Glaubitz said.
The Ambassador and his partner are being transferred to a two-year assignment at the Consulate General in Montréal, Canada.
First, does anybody know which local magazine was the first to discuss this man's private life? I doubt it was Kroonika, but could it have been the SL Õ? Pray tell to whom we all owe the honor of bad publicity for oma isamaa meie õnn ja rõõm...
Second - I actually heard - second hand - of an African-American individual affiliated with the American embassy that had to put up with a few 'Heil Hitlers' from some enthusiastic self-defoliating skinheads in Tallinn. I too was pressured for money from a leather-clad skinhead in the Old Town at an Internet Cafe. He actually asked me for money in Estonian, then Russian, then Finnish, and finally English. So you can't say they've lost all of their mental faculties :)
The idea that Estonia is any different from Finland though in its attitudes towards blacks, is a bit off mark though. Throughout my travels in Northern Europe I was privy to racist jokes a plenty. I don't think it is necessarily because people there are malevolently racist - I think it is because they just don't live near a lot of black people. When I lived in a very caucasian neighborhood as a child, I too had some funny ideas about people who didn't look like me. Now that I live in New York though, I have a lot of funny ideas about people that DO look like me.
A interesting tidbit is that the word for black man in Estonian is 'neeger' which is an insulting term in English, but Estonians insist that 'must' the word for 'black' also means 'dirty' and is a far more derogatory thing to call someone.
Estonian attitudes towards homosexuality though are a separate issue. I am currently unaware of any openly gay celebrities or high profile individuals in Estonia. I am aware they exist - and I am sure most people could point them out - but it just doesn't seem like something which is openly discussed in society.
Yet, sexuality isn't really openly discussed in public either. It is in magazines, sometimes on TV, but in a public setting? I rarely saw straight couples 'making out' or embracing in Old Town - and if they were, they were usually foreigners, or it was warm out and they were drunk.
I welcome all comments on Estonia's attitudes towards homosexuality though. I am NO expert.
I do think it's important though to view this from a European perspective. As any Dutchman will tell you, Holland, with the recent assasination of Pim Fortuyn and the murder of Theo Van Gogh, not to mention the effort to strip the citizenship of Ayaan Hirsi Ali is struggling with similar issues of bigotry and tolerance.