Germany & Qatar: After the Gas and Football Scandals, Will Minorities see Their Dignity Bartered for Tanks?

Op-Ed by Barbara Fischer

The LGBTQ+ community, along with other marginalized groups, is facing growing challenges amid the ascendance of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) and the diplomatic hesitations of the German executive on the global stage. In this respect, the German government’s backtracking on Qatar is emblematic of the community’s concerns. All the more so since, after having begged the Emirate for gas, it now wants to persuade it to purchase new weapons made in Germany. 

For the LGBTQ+ community, and other vulnerable minority groups, Germany has traditionally been a conscientious ally on the international stage. Back in 2021, the German government championed a new policy aimed at upholding the rights of LGBTQ+ people abroad, and to incorporate this strategy into its wider foreign policy approach. The LGBTI Inclusion Strategy was designed “to create structures to effectively support LGBTI human rights activities carried out by civil society in this area by giving special consideration to specific vulnerabilities and multiple discrimination.”  

Certainly, the policy was strategically unveiled during a period when prevailing sentiments regarding the integration of minority groups within specific states, and notably across Europe, are experiencing a concerning downturn. The idea was to enshrine LGBTQ+ rights in German foreign policy through law, according to State Minister Michael Roth. “We want our commitment to be less dependent on the personal efforts of colleagues – instead, it should be a fundamental principle of the German government’s policy in international affairs that LGBTI rights are human rights. Everywhere,” he explained. 

The German governments important policy comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the discrimination that many LGBTI people experience around the world,” said Cristian González Cabrera, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. The policys focus on strengthening civil society organisations recognises the crucial role they play as front-line human rights defenders and the violence and harassment they face for their pro-LGBTI work.” 

Indeed, that same year, the Bundestag ratified the Supply Chain Act, designed to “specify in what form companies must fulfil their human rights due diligence. This includes analysing human rights risks, implementing prevention and remedy measures, establishing complaint mechanisms, and reporting on their activities.”  

A cause complicated by geopolitics 

The moral commitments of the German government have really been put to the test since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The old-world order was thrown out and Germany decided to resolutely transform its approach to foreign policy, with a new strategy being set up by Chancellor Scholz during his Zeitenwende speech in February 2022. Germany’s real progress on questions of morality, ethics and minority rights came face to face with cold hard political realities.  

Instability in the Middle East, exacerbated by the October 7th attacks by Hamas and Germany’s resolute support for Israel, has meant hard geopolitical decision have had to be made that have angered many progressives in Germany. Notably, the coalition government has loosened arms exports restrictions to Saudi Arabia, and even suggested abandoning a blockade of Eurofighter jets to the country in light of continuing Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Scholz’s government have come to see Saudi Arabia as making a significant contribution to the security of Israel and working to mitigate the risk of a regional conflagration. “For this reason, we do not see ourselves as the German federal government opposing the British considerations regarding further Eurofighters for Saudi Arabia,” stated Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. 

Energy needs take precedence 

The country’s weening off Russian gas required a quick solution, and Qatar was the obvious choice. But this has posed problems for activist groups championing human and minority rights. Since the country was awarded with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a global movement to call Qatar out for perceived human rights abuses and non-respect of minority rights developed quickly, not least in Germany. “Taking a stand is not just about standing on the football field. Taking a stand means staying put and not entering territory that is a minefield in terms of human rights. I expect more from the German Football Association than just a rainbow armband,” said Alfonso Pantisano, a member of the Lesben- und Schwulenverband Deutschland (LSVD) federal board, and Berlin’s Queer Commissioner.  

But Germany’s energy needs have since seen it lean on Qatari gas, and, in tandem, discuss continued collaboration in the field of armaments. Germany provides almost the totality of the Qatari Land Army’s armoured vehicle fleet and prospecting continues, as demonstrated by the recent visit of a Qatari delegation to Rheinmetall’s plants in Hungary – while the rumoured sale of the Boxer (a RheinmetallKMW machine co-produced with UK) resurfaces from time to time. This decision to relax restrictions, in a move somewhat antithetical to the Supply Chain Act, has sent a disconcerting message to activists who have been tirelessly advocating for the protection and promotion of human rights globally.  

Indeed, the enactment of the Supply Chain Act has prompted contemplation on its applicability to regulated sectors, such as the arms trade. The question arises as to whether this legislation, designed to combat unethical practices in supply chains, will extend its purview to encompass industries subject to specific regulations. This inquiry becomes especially pertinent when considering the potential paradox of condemning unscrupulous suppliers on one hand while simultaneously engaging in the trade of military equipment with them. The scrutiny of such dual standards underscores the need for clarity and consistency in Germany’s commitment to ethical supply chain practices, particularly within industries marked by stringent regulatory frameworks. 

This intertwining of economic interests in energy and football, coupled with increased arms exports, has appeared to prioritise economic gains over the principled stand for human rights, especially as they seem so contraption to the regulatory frameworks the German government has worked so hard to develop. This has sparked anger within the LGBTQ+ community and minority rights circles, as they see Germany potentially compromising its commitment to human rights in the pursuit of diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar. “Because human rights concern us all and are a topic for the entire society, not just for supposed minorities… We must turn off the money tap for the regime in Qatar. We have a choice: don’t tune in, don’t go there, don’t spend money. And all together, not just the LGBTQ+ community,” stated Pantisano. 

Moreover, a 200-page report published by the Hans Boeckler Stiftung, the foundation of the German Confederation of Trade Unions, underscores a pivotal paradigm shift in Germany’s approach to labour relations. Emphasising the crucial role of human rights protection as a potent labour lever, the report delves into the intricate dynamics of co-management in Germany, where collaboration between employers and employees is not just an operational strategy but a fundamental aspect of corporate governance. It is an approach many would like to see transposed into foreign policy and used as a lever in negotiations with states deemed anti-ethical and conflicting with the progressive values Germany purports to espouse. 

Image: Pixabay

Become a Patron!
Or support us at SubscribeStar
Donate cryptocurrency HERE

Subscribe to Activist Post for truth, peace, and freedom news. Follow us on SoMee, Telegram, HIVE, Minds, MeWe, Twitter – X, Gab, and What Really Happened.

Provide, Protect and Profit from what’s coming! Get a free issue of Counter Markets today.

Activist Post Daily Newsletter

Subscription is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL
Free Report: How To Survive The Job Automation Apocalypse with subscription

Be the first to comment on "Germany & Qatar: After the Gas and Football Scandals, Will Minorities see Their Dignity Bartered for Tanks?"

Leave a comment