German politician Friedrich Merz says he “regrets” comments made when asked whether he would have reservations about the appointment of a gay chancellor.
Merz is a candidate for the position of chair of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU). Whoever is selected for the role would likely become the party’s candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor.
Critics said his reply to the online program Bild Live earlier this month made an association between being gay and pedophilia.
But in an interview with the news portal t-online, he insisted that his statement had been “obviously misunderstood” but that if anyone was offended, “I really regret it very much.”
“There was naturally malice at work,” Merz said of the backlash, adding that most of his party colleagues thought the criticism was “a type of outrage machine.”
What did Merz say?
During the original interview, Merz was asked whether he would have reservations if a gay chancellor were to lead Germany.
“No,” Merz replied. “Concerning the question of sexual orientation, as long as it is within the law and does not affect children — which at this point, for me, would be an absolute limit — it is not an issue for public discussion.”
His answer sparked an outcry from openly gay German politicians.
Health Minister Jens Spahn told a reporter: “If the first things you associate with homosexuality are questions of law and pedophilia, then you should rather direct your questions to Friedrich Merz.”
Deputy Chair of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), Kevin Kühnert tweeted: “This is how someone works who cannot hide the fact that he cannot deal with the normalization of homosexuality. Gay men, in particular, have always known this phenomenon: ‘I don’t care if he’s gay as long as he doesn’t hit on me.’”
kmm/mm (AFP, dpa)
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