Volker Beck (politician)

Volker Beck (born 12 December 1960) is a German politician. From 1994 to 2017, he was a member of the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, for the Green Party. Beck served as the Green Party Speaker for Legal Affairs from 1994 to 2002, and as the Green Party Chief Whip in the Bundestag till 2013. He was spokesman of the Green Parliamentary Group for interior affairs and religion. In 2014 he was elected President of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group of the German Bundestag.

Volker Beck
Netzregeln10-Volker-Beck.jpg
Member of the Bundestag
for North Rhine-Westphalia
In office
10 November 1994 – 24 October 2017
ConstituencyAlliance 90/The Greens List
Personal details
Born (1960-12-12) 12 December 1960 (age 61)
Stuttgart, West Germany (now Germany)
Political party German:
Alliance '90/The Greens
 EU:
The Greens–European Free Alliance
Spouse(s)Adrian Petkov (2017-present)
Domestic partnerJacques Teyssier (2008-d. 2009)

CareerEdit

Since November 2017 Beck is lecturer at the Center for Studies in Religious Sciences (CERES) at the Ruhr University Bochum.[1]

Political careerEdit

Beck served as spokesman of the Association of Lesbians and Gays in Germany (Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland) LSVD for over ten years. He is a supporter of same-sex marriage and has been referred to as the "Father of the German Registered Partnership Act".

Beck served as spokesperson of the Green Party’s parliamentary group on legal affairs from 1994 to 2002, and as the Green Party Chief Whip in the Bundestag until 2013. He is spokesman of the Green Parliamentary Group for interior affairs and religion. In 2014 he was elected as chairman of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Between 2001 and 2004 he was chief negotiator for his party on the new immigration law coming into force in 2005.

In a German Green leadership crisis he created the expression candystorm in support of Claudia Roth.

On his last day in session the Bundestag decided to vote on the gay marriage bill which Beck struggled for since 1989. On the last day of his parliamentary career, he received a standing ovation following the approval of same-sex marriage bill in the German Bundestag. Beck was credited as one of the most influential and important legislators campaigning for this in the German federal Parliament.[2]

Political positionsEdit

 
Jacques Teyssier (partner of Volker Beck), Vladimir Ivanov, Volker Beck and Nikolai Alekseev in February 2007 in Berlin during the Berlin International Film Festival.

Human rightsEdit

In 2003, the German Bundestag decided, on Beck’s initiative, that the Federal Republic of Germany will erect a national memorial in the center of Berlin for homosexuals persecuted by the Nazi Party.

In 2006, Beck sponsored an anti-discrimination act in civil law and at the workplace, outlawing discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, sex, sexual identity, religion, age, and disability.

On 27 May 2006, Beck was attacked and injured during a Gay Rights demonstration in Moscow, called Moscow Pride.[3][4] His attack as well as his participation at the Moscow Pride Festival is featured in the documentary Moscow Pride '06.

In May 2007 he was arrested and put in a bus in front of Moscow City Hall by the police. He had wanted to hand over a petition signed by several Members of Parliament at Moscow City Hall. He was attacked and had eggs thrown at his head. As in 2007, his partner Jacques Teyssier tried to protect Mr. Beck from attacks by anti gay rights protesters.[5]

Alongside fellow MP Marieluise Beck, Volker Beck has been a vocal critic of Russia’s human rights situation. During his time as his parliamenary group’s spokesperson on human rights, he described the repeated prison sentences against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev as "disproportionate." He has often urged the German government and the European Union to make unequivocally clear to the Russian government that “the only Russia that can be a strategic partner is one that observes the rule of law.” He also called on Western investors to “put an end to their opportunistic silence.”[6]

Beck spoke in favor of continuing European Union sanctions on Uzbekistan, originally instated after the Uzbek government did not allow an international investigation of the Andijan massacre, on 17 October 2006.[7]

In 2011, Beck visited the Sahrawi refugee camps to learn more about the humanitarian situation in the Western Sahara.

In 2015, following the agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, Beck criticized Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel for calling the country a “friend” and argued that “with its position on Israel and its human rights situation this Iranian regime cannot be Germany’s friend or strategic partner.”[8]

In June 2016, Beck was among 19 people detained by Turkish police central in Istanbul; the police had tried to disperse dozens of activists attempting to gather to mark the annual Istanbul Pride week after authorities banned their march.[9]

Germany's Nazi PastEdit

Beck is also considered an important figure in securing compensation for victims of Nazism. Alongside Otto Graf Lambsdorff, he negotiated the $4.6 billion fund to compensate people enslaved by the Nazis and later served as one of the trustees of the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future".[10] In 2008, he claimed that the German Parliament should raise more money to fight against right wing extremists.[11] In 2015 he was awarded the Leo-Baeck-Award by the Central Council of Jews in Germany.[12]

In 2013, Beck complained to R&S, the maker of condoms that were used in a far-right party's campaign against immigrant births. The company apologized and pledged to donate 10,000 condoms as well as the proceeds from the NPD order to a German foundation against right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism.[13]

Sex and the lawEdit

In 2013, Beck received major media attention, when his 1988 essay: "Amending criminal law? An appeal for a realistic, new orientation of sexuality politics" which promoted the decriminalization of pedosexuality, was released in full by Spiegel Online, showing that editorial changes had not altered the message of the essay as he had claimed. In response to the essay's initial discovery amidst revelations within the Green Party regarding members prior involvement in the pedophilia movement, Beck distanced himself from his previous writing and mentioned that reports from German child care facilities combating child sexual abuse dramatically changed his position.[14][15]

Possession of DrugsEdit

In March 2016, a police search based on reasonable suspicion that Beck had purchased and was in possession of a small amount (lowest classification under German narcotics law) of a controlled substance, lead to the seizure of 0.6 grams of an alleged drug. Media reports have claimed that the found substance was crystal meth. Legal proceedings ended with a fine of €7,000 under the classification of "minimal guilt" in April 2016. In the aftermath the Green Party decided for him to remain their spokesperson for religious affairs and elected him to become spokesperson for immigration policy. Irene Mihalic replaced him as spokesperson for domestic policy.[16][17][18][19]

Other activitiesEdit

RecognitionEdit

In 2001 the INGLO [fr] honoured his work for the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in Germany with the Like-a-rock Award. In the same year the Berlin Gay Pride festival honored him with the Rainbow Award.

On 3 October 2002, he was honored by then German President Johannes Rau on the advice of Jewish organisations (the Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Jewish Claims Conference) as Knight of the Distinguished Service Cross. Beck also supported the Holocaust memorial and is a member of the Federal Foundation which erected the memorial.

Equality Forum honoured Beck on 1 May 2005 as one of forty heroes for his extraordinary contributions toward LGBT equality. He is the only non-North American who was honored.

On 5 October 2006 during GLBT history month Volker Beck was featured by Equality Forum.[20][21]

Personal lifeEdit

Beck is openly gay. He lived in a long-term partnership with Jacques Teyssier until his death from cancer in Berlin on 25 July 2009. The couple had officially registered their partnership in 2008, after 16 years.[22] Beck later entered into a relationship with architect Adrian Petkov, and after registering their partnership in the summer of 2017, the two married on the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Kreuzberg.[23][24]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Volker Beck lehrt am CERES, 4 September 2017.
  2. ^ New York Times: German Parliament Approves Same-Sex Marriage 2017-06-30
  3. ^ "Nationalist Protesters Attack Gay Rights Activists in Moscow". Fox News. 28 May 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  4. ^ "German Stance on Moscow Gay Crackdown Under Debate". Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Moscow Pride : a second stonewall took place". Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  6. ^ Merkel Condemns Khodorkovsky Sentencing: 'Impression Remains that Political Motives Played a Role' Spiegel Online, 30 December 2010.
  7. ^ "German Lawmaker Sees No Rights Progress In Uzbekistan". Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  8. ^ John Vinocur (27 July 2015), France Throws In the Towel on Iran Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ Nick Tattersall (26 June 2016), Turkish police fire tear gas in Istanbul to disperse Gay Pride activists Reuters.
  10. ^ Federal Judge Declines to Dismiss Holocaust-Reparations Suit New York Times, 8 March 2001.
  11. ^ "Grünen-Politiker fordert mehr Geld im "Kampf gegen Rechts"". Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  12. ^ Jüdische Allgemeine: BERLIN Volker Beck erhält Leo-Baeck-Preis
  13. ^ Sophie Duvernoy (6 September 2013), German firm apologizes for producing anti-immigrant condoms Reuters.
  14. ^ Müller, Ann-Katrin (20 September 2013). "Grüne: Volker Beck täuschte Öffentlichkeit über Pädophilie-Text". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Greens politician Volker Beck caught with crystal meth | DW | 2 March 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Volker Beck's drug charges damage Greens ahead of election | DW | 3 March 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Greens politician Volker Beck caught with crystal meth | DW | 2 March 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  18. ^ "German lawmaker Volker Beck apologizes for drug scandal | DW | 13 April 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  19. ^ ONLINE, ZEIT (26 April 2016). "Die Grünen: Beck bleibt religionspolitischer Sprecher". Die Zeit (in German). ISSN 0044-2070. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Volker Beck, b. December 12, 196". Archived from the original on 16 September 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  21. ^ "Volker Beck Auszeichnungen". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  22. ^ "German Green MP Volker Beck mourns his life partner Jacques Teyssier". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  23. ^ Heine, Hannes (1 October 2017). "Ja, er will! Volker Beck traut sich in Kreuzberg" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  24. ^ Eddy, Melissa (1 October 2017). "Same-Sex Couples Wed in Germany as Marriage Law Takes Effect". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.

External linksEdit