Traditionally, homosexuality has been a touchy subject in the conservative world of international diplomacy. Being gay was considered a personal matter that had to remain out of the public eye. With a Foreign Minister openly homosexual, Germany is playing a major role in changing that.
Since their official acknowledgment in 2004, Guido Westerwelle and his partner Michael Mronz have been a public couple in Berlin and in the German press. Now that the 49-year-old Westwerwelle is the country’s vice chancellor, the two are in the spotlight. Since his appointment at the end of October, the German Foreign Minister has travelled extensively, visiting a total of 24 countries: Poland, The Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the US, Denmark, the UK, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Emirates, Yemen, Estonia, Japan, and China. Mr Mronz, a 43-year-old sports manager from Cologne, accompanied Mr Westerwelle in five of those countries: Italy, Sweden, Finland, China and Japan. During their recent Asian trip in mid January, a special program was set up for the gay couple. The German Foreign Ministry is always ready to provide information on how the minister is coping with this sensitive issue. Transparency is clearly its rule. Mr Westerwelle probably thinks that his example could have a positive fall-out for the rest of European and Western societies. However, he is also acutely aware that his homosexuality might damage Germany’s foreign policy. Not surprisingly, up to now he has decided to travel to the Arab countries on his own.