Homosexuelle Initiative (HOSI) Wien

1. Lesben- und Schwulenverband Österreichs

Austrians stay discreet over Haider’s outing

The Austrian far right in power: special report

Kate Connolly, Vienna

The outing of far-right leader Jörg Haider has hardly caused a stir in Austria where, according to a lone commentator, there has been a ‘sudden silence in the beer hall’.
It took a foreign newspaper (the Tageszeitung or taz of Berlin) to publish what has been common knowledge here for years, but has never been publicly declared.
‘It’s now the hot topic in editorial meetings, but it might take the media a few weeks to decide how they should react,’ said one journalist who asked for his name to be withheld.
‘Austria is a Catholic country, so the collective psyche works differently. Traditionally, you only really discuss these things with your priest in a confessional.’
So far the Freedom Party (FPO), of which Haider is de facto leader, has refused to speak. The leader of its parliamentary group, Peter Westenthaler, would only say: ‘I refuse to comment on such absurdities and sleaze-mongering.’
Among the media only the liberal daily, Der Standard, and Austria’s first private television station AT, which began broadcasting three weeks ago, have touched the subject.
Austrian outing ‘specialist’, Kurt Krickler, who in 1995 outed five Catholic bishops, says: ‘It’s characteristic that no one till now has gone public with the information. That’s because by doing it you out yourself and put your neck on the line.’
Speak to people in gay bars in Vienna, and the reaction is much the same. ‘We can’t name names, it’s dangerous even to talk about this because he has such good connections within the police force and the secret services,’ said a 28-year-old gay man in Rosa Lila, a trendy gay and lesbian meeting point which a Freedom Party MP once denounced as a ‘subsidised brothel’.
But they nod when asked to confirm the allegations printed in taz. While some say the outing of Haider – a man who enjoys defaming and denouncing other ‘minorities’, whether foreigners, artists or women – is justified, playing him at his own game, others fear it will be damaging to the gay cause and provoke a wave of anti-gay feeling.

OBSERVER, Sunday March 26, 2000

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