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Equality commissioner: Climate in Estonia reminiscent of 1920s Germany

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Gender and equality commissioner Liisa-Ly Pakosta.
Gender and equality commissioner Liisa-Ly Pakosta. Source: pakosta.ee

Gender and equal treatment commissioner Liisa-Ly Pakosta says that the current political climate in Estonia is more reminiscent of Germany in the 1920s, given the incitement from some quarters against minority groups and also the media.

Speaking on political discussion show Esimene stuudio, Pakosta referred to recent pickets of LGBT+ events in Pärnu and Tartu.

"I see a number of danger signs reminiscent of the 1920s and '30s in Europe, especially Germany. Historically, Estonia's normal value space is still respectful of people and we respect everyone in this cold climate," Pakosta told presenter Johannes Tralla.

"Attacking one minority as part of the political agenda is completely inappropriate for Estonia's constitutional order and legal space," she said.

Pakosta said that singling out particular groups was something that previously had not been seen in Estonia for a very long time.

Police not sitting idle over LGBT+ event picketing

She also noted that, contrary to public perceptions that nothing would be done, for instance in the case of an LGBT+ gather in Pärnu last month, which had to be relocated following harassment from opponents, including representatives of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), in fact the police are following up leads.

Pakosta also refuted a claim made by EKRE that LGBT+ groups were unjustifiably receiving substantial state support from the culture ministry, noting that the sums to such groups are an infinitesimally small proportion of the support budget – not much more than a hundredth of one percent, with much larger sums going to the elderly, families, people with disabilities etc.

She also noted that society does not refer to elderly or disability "propaganda", referring to claims of "homopropaganda" attached to LGBT+ events.

Pakosta also said that LGBT+ groups could not be described as ideological, since they were non-profit organizations, and were not political parties or similar.

"Ideological civic organizations are the parties we choose in elections," she went on.

Gender still a thing, gender roles not so much

On gender, Pakosta said she did not understand the fight against "gender neutrality", and noted that while there were differences between boys and girls, or men and women, traditional gender roles, such as kindergarten teachers being seen inevitably as women, should be dispensed with.

Pakosta did however concede that "middle-aged, white males" were in some sense an embattled group, at least in Estonia, with lower life expectancies than women and about half as many university graduates among their ranks.

Media attacks have sinister precedent, says Pakosta

Attacks on the media which Pakosta said have been directed, sometimes, again, by EKRE representatives, were also worrying, she thought.

Pakosta claimed that the term "fake news" had its origins with the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 1920s and '30s. "Lügenpresse" ("the lying press") was a term in vogue at the time (its origins stretch back further, to the 19th century-ed.).

Esimene stuudio presenter Johannes Tralla was one of the journalists named by EKRE earlier in the year as an example of "bias" at public broadcaster ERR.

Pakosta also said that if recognition were given to marriage as being between two people, and not as between a man and a woman, the need for the Cohabitation Act and its enabling laws would be removed.

Ultimately, Pakosta said, LGBT+ and other minority groups are just that, aimed at protecting those who would otherwise be vulnerable.

The original Esimene stuudio slot (in Estonian) is here.


Please note that an earlier version of this piece stated that Pakosta did not understand gender neutrality as a concept. In fact she stated that she did not understand the fight against gender neutrality. This has been amended in-line with the Estonian original piece. ERR News apologizes for any inconvenience or confusion.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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