Tatjana Greif: WARS ON GREEN FIELDS
On the green fields of Johannesburg “war broke out.” Such was the spectacular announcement made by the Slovenian media on the opening of the World Cup football championship held in the capital of the Republic of South Africa, the city that sees 50 murders and 150 rapes happening on a daily basis. News followed about the slavish Third World child workforce hand stitching football balls that are then kicked by football millionaires.
A sports journalist on another occasion yelled euphorically into the ether, proclaiming the Slovenian “National football team a saint” and saying, in a slip of the tongue, that football is something “birds are already barking about.” Football and the archives of the Third Reich seem to have been the inspiration for the Slovenian mobile operator ad campaign that features a dark-haired boy in a football dress standing upright under the shine of divine floodlight in a huge empty stadium, hymn-like singing and staring up into the dark. He would make a good rival to the Nazi propaganda films of the “healthy spirit in a healthy Arian body” kind. Just like those shot by Reifenstahl for the Berlin Olympics in the Thirties. It may well be no accident that the lad is singing the Kekec1 song; Josip Vandot’s Kekec, the cheerful alpine shepherd boy, is a fine example of racist and xenophobic children’s literature. The Aryan race of children – footballers in the advertising spot shot in the Vienna stadium is a race of boys, indeed, not girls. Militarism most diverse on the artificial green fields is well described in the thought of the Nobel Prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek: “Sport, this stronghold of the little man, from where he can shoot.”
The Ministry of Education and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia released in May, the month of youth and love, the national campaign “I’m proud of sex.” The statement the pupils are eagerly signing goes: “Humankind is divided into two (poles) sexes. Joined they form the whole for the continuation of civilization.”
The Ministry of Education campaign is exclusive and intolerant for it excludes by way of the ordered complementarity of two sexes all forms of partnerships and family other than those composed of male and female, thoroughly negating the possibility of different sexual identities. In the 21st century, it is almost unthinkable that such a campaign, in the spirit of archaic, biological and patriarchal mentality, prescribes to the young such sexual stereotypes, rigid sexual roles and sexual restrictiveness, instigating intolerance towards minorities. Moreover, it defines procreation as the only principle and obligation of civilization, while at the same time neglecting completely the educative moment of raising awareness about the significance of safe sexual practices. And so we could see Mr. Lukšič, the Slovenian Minister of Education, in the company of a known youth writer Desa Muck proudly attending, with a smile on his face amidst the youth, the “deliberate” signing of the statement.
Only a few days later, we could hear the same minister asserting in a TV show2 that he is against contraception. The right to free choice as regards family planning and birth of children is a fundamental, constitutionally and legally guaranteed civil right. It remains unclear, however, how a governmental minister could possibly speak in favour of standpoints that are in stark opposition to the statutory provisions applicable in the country whose minister he is. That the minister has set himself the goal to systematically consolidate the patriarchate is proven as well by the introduction of specific seminars for the pedagogic staff where teachers can consolidate their knowledge about “right, firm, traditional, biological and natural sex roles” and about what makes for a “real” man and for a “real” woman.
Also bearing witness to the fact that the Slovenian education system carries out biopolitics is the web page of the Slovenian national Education Institute. In the framework of the elementary school curriculum, the section “Education for a healthy way of life,” in the rubric “Different kinds of sexual behaviour,” mentions homosexuality and transsexuality alongside the deviant as well as even some criminal offences, such as: “Homosexuality, masochism, sadism, necrophilia, exhibitionism, transvestism, transsexuality, voyeurism, fetishism, rape, incest, prostitution, paedophilia, Sodomy, pornography.”
Homosexuality and transsexuality are quoted alongside necrophilia, rape, incest, paedophilia and sodomy, which, according to the legislation of the Republic of Slovenia, qualify as criminal offences. Institutions in the field of education should be the first to know that homosexuality – besides bisexuality and heterosexuality – is one of the three types of human sexual orientations, while transsexuality is a form of sexual identity. Thrown into the same trash bin as criminal phenomena and health categories, they the subject of a case of abuse of meaning that leads to other abuses, intolerance and violence.
In July of this year, Slovenia hosted its tenth Pride parade. Its motto “Enough waiting!” is also literally illustrated by its banner, which shows a long queue of more or less recognizable GLBT identities waiting patiently at a bus station. Yet, the bus never comes. During the Pride parade week, in which numerous cultural and entertainment events took place, activists throughout Slovenia travelled with a van under the title Rainbow Guerilla, supplying the passers-by with leaflets and condoms and pasting posters. This year’s parade journey was advertised as a “guerrilla” action that has nothing whatsoever to do with real guerrilla strategies. However – from the viewpoint of the endeavours of the Ministry for Education, that in the 21st century envisages only and solely two sexes, ordering procreational heterosexual sex and prohibiting contraception – the public distribution of condoms seems to be able to potentially represent a guerrilla danger. This is how far a member state of the EU, of the NATO pact, of the OECD and other military-economic integrations has gone.
This year, for the first time, the Croatian president officially received the organizers of the Pride parade. President Ivo Josipović had already mentioned sexual orientation in his inaugural address and was not concerned by such public advocacy of human rights – unlike many politicians among them Slovenian as well, to whom minority issues means far too big an electoral risk. The Croatian parade activists soon labelled the president’s invitation as a “significant historical moment in the endeavour to build a more just, better and happier society for all people.”
However, the organizers of this year’s ninth Zagreb Pride parade, to put it mildly, have plucked some odd strings for achieving that same goal. They surprised with the campaign, which was supposed to draw GLBT nearer to the people’s majority, but was visually more likely repulsive, and in terms of content, occasionally even controversial, by its uses of nationalistic and Nazi-skin iconography, flirting even with the Ustasha movement. The video spot was a blend of infantile MTV pop culture, grafted into a hollow transitional mentality. The refrain “Fuck You” was meant to attract sympathizers to partake to the parade, belittling them in truth, while the relaxed singing and dancing of the young, white, healthy, cheerful and happy bodies showed a completely distorted image of the homosexual reality in the region. The use of the Nazi-skin iconography, football dresses, and above all, the waving of knives in the spot, might also be an ambiguous parody, reflecting at the same time the current state of homo activism.
The series of five posters is also meant to represent the “provocative turnabout.” The main poster bears a frontal image of a queue of people showing coloured naked buttocks under which appears the title “Croatia can swallow it.” Swallow what? More than controversial is also the use of the slogan “Ready for Gay Marriage,” which is a paraphrase of the Ustasha motto “Ready for the Fatherland.” A poster shows two young men in football dress with red chessboard patterns, hugging and kissing. Beside them the slogan “Protect every kiss.” Not only is the image of the football gay-couple misleading, all the more so since we know that football hooligans every year vent their rage on the parade participants throughout Eastern Europe, but the title itself comes from the German media campaign with the homonymous slogan which is oriented against violence over gays and lesbians. The poster with a tattooed arm and a closed fist says, “Let’s go deeper,” while the one with a young policeman in a uniform holding a plastic dildo goes, “Police authorities are here to serve.” The use of macho and militant iconography for subverting prejudices, intolerance and hatred can by no means be a model of a well thought-out strategy for changing public opinion. The Pride parade, as a mass event, as a group outing or a mass public kissing, is becoming all the more distant from reality, bordering rather on a comic caricature of assimilation, normalization and accepting just everything for the sake of social inclusion.
This year, for the first time in history, a Serbian president received the representatives of the gay and lesbian activists and supported the Pride parade. Only a day later, when the Serbian president Boris Tadić met with the representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Info Centre GLIC, the Serbian Wikipedia erased the GLIC page from its domain, claiming it to be irrelevant. However, what is all the more relevant is that the Serbian Wikipedia continues to advertise fascist and homophobic groups.
MEP and former president of the Lithuanian parliament Vytautas Landsbergis and the Slovak MEP Anna Zábórska declared in the European Parliament that paedophilia is linked with homosexuality. Their British colleague Michael Cashman has called on both to “come out of the closet” and finally out themselves as Vatican spokesmen.
The advocates of the Vatican are also present in Slovenia, which was visited in June by one of the most homophobic of Cardinals, Tarcisio Bertone, who in April convened a press conference in which he accused gays of paedophilic scandals in the RCC. His visit – which took place precisely on the day of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Mathausen concentration camp – was advertised in the Slovenian media as “breaking news.” What is more, recently, the Slovenian community experienced a culmination of a consensus between the Catholic and Islamic communities, who joined forces in solidarity against the rights of same-sex couples and families. Anton Stres, Archbishop of Ljubljana, and Nedžad Grabus, Mufti of Ljubljana, publicly signed at a press conference the statement “Marriage and family – pillars of social and religious life.” Both said that “Catholics and Muslims appraise highly conjugal and family life and therefore they strive for the right of every child to a family life in a conjugal community between father and mother.” Again we could hear truisms about the family being the fundamental nucleus of society and came to know that members of the Catholic and Islamic communities in Slovenia were being called upon to publicly strive for the protection of marriage and family life. The roles of father and mother are “of key importance for a proper personal development of the married couple and children.” Of course when it comes to lesbians and gays, diverse religious hierarchies easily overcome historical differences, gaining “large consensus” without delay. Thank God that the organizers of the Rock Otočec music festival also considered providing for a holy mass in the framework of the festival programme.
Eurostat, on World Refugee Day, made public the information about the number of asylum permits issued in the EU member states in 2009. Altogether, 78,800 permits were approved to asylum seekers. The majority of them were from Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. More than three-quarters of all asylum permits were issued by Great Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands. Last year, Slovenia issued only twenty permits to asylum seekers, ten of who came from Kosovo and five of who came from Serbia and Kazakhstan each. However, what Eurostat failed to publish was the number and direction of deportations from the EU.
Tatjana Greif holds a PhD in archaeology. She is a lesbian activist, publicist, editor of the book ŠKUC – Vizibilija and the Journal for Critique of Science, Ljubljana.
Translated from Slovenian by Tanja Passoni.
1 Kekec is a child protagonist of the homonymous story by the Slovenian writer Josip Vandot (t.n.).
2 Verified. Pop-TV, June 1, 2010.