President Kersti Kaljulaid said that a statement hostile to sexual minorities made by Interior Minister and leading politician of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Mart Helme is "humanly simply revolting" and added that Helme is not suitable for the Estonian government.
"I do not understand Interior Minister Mart Helme's undisguised hostility towards our society. We are talking about our own people - our police officers and teachers, our creative people and builders, our neighbors, co-workers, friends. Strangers, too, but still our people. Dividing and classifying them as correct and incorrect, us and them, on the basis of sexual orientation, skin color, or any other characteristic, is unacceptable, contrary to the spirit of our Constitution and also humanly simply revolting," the head of state wrote on social media.
Kaljulaid said that Helme's statement is a provocation that divides people into more valuable and less valuable ones based on how they were born. At the same time, the president raised the question of what period of time this fact reminds Estonians of.
"I am ashamed and sad that the people of Estonia, who believe what is written in the Estonian Constitution, that we are all equal before the law, and who therefore think they are protected from the willfulness of politicians, once again learned that we have a minister in government to whom the human dignity of the people of Estonia is less important than his right to use his position of power to demean others," she said.
Evil must never be tolerated, she wrote. "Evil and hatred can never be a political agenda, where we think it is the policy of one party and live on. The moment we normalize evil, we occupy ourselves," the president said.
Kaljulaid said she does not believe that a minister with such opinions is suitable for the government of Estonia. "The people of Estonia deserve better. I also discussed this with the prime minister on Saturday morning, to whom I forwarded my position," the president said.
"The pain that such statements have caused to all the people of Estonia, for whom the real Republic of Estonia and its Constitution are dear, who care about the well-being of their fellow human beings and who have always hoped that our own governments, whatever the parties they consist of, will remain utterly faithful to Estonia, hurts me too," Kaljulaid said.
"It is possible to look past what has happened and say that it is just politics. But in fact, this may be the weekend when people's confidence in the foundations of their country will cease to function to a significant extent. It is still possible to change it. It needs to be changed," she added.
Helme made the comments to Deutsche Welle (DW) which were published in an interview with the company's Russian language service on Friday.
When asked by a journalist from DW if gay people have mounted an offensive and are about to flood Estonia, Helme said they would do well to run away to Sweden.
"They can run to Sweden. They'll have everything there, and they'll be looked upon more politely by everyone," Helme said.
"Do you look at them impolitely?" the journalist asked Helme.
"I indeed look at them in an unfriendly manner," the minister said.
"Nowadays, this is called homophobia," the journalist said.
"It's not homophobia. I'd argue that the people who claim that our referendum is unnecessary are heterophobes. They are barging into the beds of heterosexual people. It is them barging in on us, not the other way around. If they can disseminate their propaganda, we can counter it with different propaganda," Helme said.
On Saturday, Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) said Mart Helme had been mistranslated either due to a lack of language skills or malice.
Editor: Helen Wright