teisipäev, juuni 06, 2006

Dutch Ambassador to Leave 'Homophobic' Tallinn

Dutch Ambassador Hans Glaubitz (pictured, left) is leaving Estonia because his male partner, a black Cuban, has been the victim of homophobia and racism, according to several news reports.

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.

21 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

Granted that this raindeer herder feels some what uncomfortable witnessing man on man situations and, for some totally illogical reason, not too bad with girl on girl. However, it is clear that democracy is tested by how it treats it's minorities and gays deserve the same protection as any other group that is not breaking any laws. There seems to be sort of chill in the air; gays attacked in Russia, Romania, Germany etc. Here is hoping that Estonians don't join that sad trend.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

For Germany: In our city partliament is a gay, the city mayor of Berlin, gay, the Liberal Party (FDP) Westerwelle is gay. How about United States?

Anonüümne ütles ...

Yup, and in Dresden they are bleeding.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Didn't want to demonstrate how good evrything works in Germany. Only pointing at what we have achieved. You are right! Nothing to defend here, I'm not an offical state representative.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Hmm... and not one comment from an Estonian. Ok then...

About racism.
Personally I think that's just what you said - we just don't live near a lot of black people.
It's not unusual when mother says to her young child on the street In Estonia: "Näe vaata, neeger"
It's something unusual, like a man with a really long beard. Color of your skin isn't a defect or a disability. If anyone feels offended, it's their personal problem.
The same thing with the word "neeger" - it's a direct loan from Spanish "negro" (originally from Latin "niger") and has never had and an insulting meaning in Estonian. And yet still I feel like there's a constant pressure from "outside" to change our language...

It doesn't mean we don't have people who adore "the supreme race theory" crap. Sure we do, and so has everyone else (only in much bigger quantities)

About homophobia.
First of all I find the term "foobia" a bit confusing - its should be an irrational FEAR/ intense HATE. But I feel it is often used for people who just don't like (or simply don't feel comfortable) gays exhibiting their sexuality. Over 2/3 of Estonians don't approve gay marriages, 3/4 child adoptions.
Estonia is such a small place that everyone knows who's sleeping/dating who (and that's like that even if you don't read Kroonika). So you pretty much know all the local gay celebrities... well of course most of them act gay too ;)
Entertainers (TV, music industry), artists, chefs, fashion designers, sport instructors and so on...
They are respected for what they do (if they do it well)
They understand the people and the country they live in...

Kind of funny that my foreigner friends and alomost everyone who's been here mentions the beautiful old town and... the polite, helpful, educated and friendly people.
Just a week ago there was a news article about research saying that almost half of the British don't know anything about Estonia. But the first thing that came to mind of those who knew something was the friendly people.
So I'm a bit confused. Who or what are we?

I personally think that as long as one respects the Estonian language, history, way of life and just acts normal - Estonia is the perfect place to visit, work, live and die.

As to the Dutch Ambassador and his sex partner...
The whole thing just doesn't feel right. In cases like this, it's usual/required to inform the local police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Estonia and back home... which the didn't.
Like I said, Estonia is a small place and there's been even some whispers that his hot-blooded Cuban boyfriend had promised to leave him if they wouldn't move - it was simply not "gay enough" here (compared to Sau Paulo where they lived before Estonia) It's understandable, after all we only have one gay bar...

Giustino ütles ...

Ahh, but what would replace that word? Pekka, do you think the Finns could loan their Viro cousins some more words?

T, the word 'neeger' doesn't have the same connotation that it does in the US. It is just their word for black person. If they used their word for black - 'must' it would be more insulting.

And there is no black group in Estonia that can - as groups did in the US in the 60s and 70s - stand up and issue a statement saying they would now like to be called X, instead of Y.

That being said, Glaubitz only lived in Estonia since September. Perhaps nobody briefed him on the meaning of the word 'neeger' in Estonian.

Anonüümne ütles ...

When I said "acts normal" I meant "obeys the law and is polite". So act normal + respect the local customs and language - and everything is cool...
And no, I didn't mean the N-word. I can't even imagine myself saying it out loud the way you do. I simply respect the English language and the people who speak that language...

I don't think Finns could help us out this time. If I'm not mistaking "neekeri" was a perfectly normal neutral word just 10 years ago and I know people are using it to this day. But we can't see it in the public any more. There was even a scandal a few years ago when they "took down" the police officer who used the word "neekeri" when describing a wanted criminal. Getting fined for using your language in your country...
So the Finns also turned to the dark side - to "must" (which doesn't mean dirty in Finnish) So I think nowadays the PC word in Finlad for black people is "mustaihoinen".

But what should we do? Many people obviously feel that the only way to handle this "problem" is just start fining people who use the word "neeger" and the word "must" when referring to something dirty...
That'd be great!

Anonüümne ütles ...

As I can get no sleep, here is three short stories for you to read:

The orginal:
Pippi Långstrump.
Sin pappa hade Pippi inte glömt. Han var sjökapten och seglade på de stora haven, och Pippi hade seglat med honom på hans båt, ända tills pappa en gång under en storm blåste i sjön och försvann. Men Pippi var alldeles säker på att han en dag skulle komma tillbaka. Hon trodde inte alls, att han hade drunknat. Hon trodde, att han hade flutit i land på en ö, där det fanns fullt med negrer, och att hennes pappa hade blivit kung över alla negrerna och gick omkring med en gullkrona på huvudet hela dagarna.
Min mamma är en ängel och min pappa är en negerkung, det är minsann inte alla barn son har så fina föräldrar brukade Pippi säja så förnöjd. Och när min pappa bara får bygga sej en båt, så kommer han och hämtar mej, och då blir jag en negerprinsessa. Hej hopp, vad det ska bli livat!

The Estonian version:
Pipi Pikksukk.
Isa polnud Pipi unustanud. Ta isa oli olnud laevakapten ning purjetanud suurtel meredel, ja Pipi sõitis temaga laevas kaasa tolle ajani, kui ükskord torm isa merre puhus ja ta kadunuks jäi. Kuid Pipi oli päris kindel, et isa ühel päeval tagasi tuleb. Ta ei uskunud hoopiski, et isa oleks uppunud. Ta uskus, et isa oli jõudnud mõne saare randa, kus elas palju neegreid, ning et ta isast sai kõigi nende neegrite kuningas ja käib päevad läbi ringi, kuldne kroon peas.
"Mu ema on ingel ja mu isa neegrikuningas, tõesõna, nii peeneid vanemaid pole kaugeltki kõigil lastel," tavatses Pipi rahulolevalt öelda. "Niipea kui mu isa ainult jõuab endale laeva ehitada, tuleb ta mulle järele, siis ma saan neegriprintsessiks. Ohhoo, mis lustipidu sellest saab!"

The English version:
Pippi Longstocking.
Pippi hadn't forgotten her father.He had been a ship's captain, and sailed on the great ocean. Pippi had sailed with him on his boat, at least until the time he had blown into the sea during a storm and disappeared. But Pippi was quite sure that one day he would come back, for she never belived that he had drowned. She was certain that he had come ashore on a desert island one with lots and lots of cannibals. And that her father had become king of them all and went about all day with a gold crown on his head.
'My mother is an angel and my father is a Cannibal King, there aren't many children with so fine a father!' said Pippi, really pleased with herself.' And when my father has built himself a boat he'll come to fetch me, and then I shall become a Cannibal Princess. What a life it will be!'

Anonüümne ütles ...

Few years ago I accidentally found a first three or four chapters of American English version of "Pipi Pikksukk". Read it and didn't know what to do next: laugh or cry about it. They actually turned some tribe of black people into cannibals! Oh that is just SO MUCH better...

That wasn't of course the latest release. I heard that the new American and Swedish realeases don't describe the appearance of the inhabitants of the island Kurrunurrivutisaar at all. Now that's how one fine children book should be written!

Giustino ütles ...

What about 'aafriklane'? - surely Peter Tosh and Bob Marley could rest well, knowing that all blacks in Estonia are called Africans, regardless of national origin ...

Kalmanuppi ütles ...

T - you should move to Spain or France. I bet that would confuse the hell out of you.

Re: Finnish "musta" is used as "dirty" in some cases, "minulla on mustat kädet", meaning ink/oil etc.

The problem is that "mustalainen" is a racial slur used of the Roma; and we had been just conditioned of not calling anyone by color, as calling someone "musta" would be asking a Roma overhearing and getting mad...
Besides which I've never seen a "mustaihoinen" person in my life. And I'm not "white" either.

Problem then is also the American "caucasian" thing as in Russia the Caucasians are called "blacks".

It is not a good idea to go to a foreign country and impose your language standards on them if you don't know the etymologies. You make yourself look more stupid than you are.

Kalmanuppi ütles ...

Giustino, how about 'tume'?

The "PC" police term for Roma has been "tumma". Well, with the advent of foreigners they had to invent a few new words. The word is they started then using "himmeä" and "läpinäkymätön"...

Ruudi ütles ...

Well, in estonian I will coninue calling neeger, thats the correct word and if I want to be ironic I call them mooramees! In Italy old generation still calles black people negretto, they say that in italian it has always been like that and you you make them notice that today that word may be offensive, they do not care, becasue that is an italian word, correct for negretti and they are not offending anybody. So why all this problem?
Concerning gay's, I am really getting already tired about this gayidentity crap! I am not going on the streets telling the wrld with who I go to bed, why they have to do it? I mean, some people are born with some problem other with other, gay's have just some hormonal or cormosomic problem... A lot of people wear eyeglasses for eyeproblems.... that does not mean they are much different from the rest....

Anonüümne ütles ...

Hey Ruudi, so I assume that you never hug your girlfriend in public, that you never kissed her on the street...because its nobody's business with whom you are in love or go to bed with, right...?..."gay's have just some hormonal or cormosomic problem"...Problem ??? Oh my God !!!

Giustino ütles ...

Let me make one thing clear.

'Tolerance' does not mean you must enjoy/appreciate/like the sight of two men kissing in public.

It just means that you don't heckle them/threaten them with violence for doing so.

In other words, you just let them be. You tolerate them. Just like one can 'tolerate' the religious zealots that hand out flyers in the street of every American city condemning most of the citizenry to Hell.

As for Ruudi's comment, from a heterosexual perspective, homosexuality is often seen as a "problem" or a "glitch" in human sexuality.

That doesn't mean that it is. But if you are male and you love boobies, it's REALLY hard to understand other men that do not like boobies.

Anonüümne ütles ...

what does ühel päeval mean????

Anonüümne ütles ...

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