Ralf Kleindiek - "It Is a Very Serious Matter of Discrimination If We Define Family as a Closed Unit"

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Oct 08, 2015
by Heather Jaber
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Ralf Kleindiek - "It Is a Very Serious Matter of Discrimination If We Define Family as a Ralf Kleindiek - "It Is a Very Serious Matter of Discrimination If We Define Family as a Closed Unit"d Unit"

The State Secretary at the German Ministry of Family Affairs discussed inclusive concepts of family at this year's Salzburg Global LGBT Forum

As LGBT issues have been gaining global awareness, it is important to engage in discussion from both cultural and political perspectives. Ralf Kleindiek, state secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Woman and Youth, discussed inclusive conceptions of family and their relevance for LGBT people at the third annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum

The implication of family definitions for exclusion and discrimination has been an issue for the Global LGBT Forum since its foundation in 2013. During its session in Berlin 2014, the topic brought the Forum together with Dr. Kleindiek who invited the Forum to a discussion at the German Ministry for Family Affairs. This year, Kleindiek joined the session in Salzburg to introduce a video series called "Family is...?" where members of the Global LGBT Forum share their experiences of what family means to them. The project, funded by the Ministry,  is an on-going three year collaboration with the Global LGBT Forum. 

Kleindiek emphasized the importance of inclusive family policies and the importance of symbols in politics to further discussions of LGBT issues. "For most people, family is a crucial part of their lives, of their identities," Kleindiek explained. "This project with the Global LGBT Forum helps us to portray the complexities of our lives, including those of our families by birth and choice."

On notions of family, the state secretary spoke of the need to move away from restrictive definitions. "It is important that we have a very wide interpretation of what family is...It is a very serious matter of discrimination if we define family as a closed unit."

In an interview with Klaus Mueller, founder and chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, Kleindiek discussed family as a place of support independently from sexual identity. “For me personally, family is a place where I can be, where I know someone is helping and supporting me if it’s necessary, and where I help and support my parts of the family when it’s necessary.”

Kleindiek also addressed the importance of ministerial support for all people living in families. “For us, it’s important to make the different situations visible, and the problems too,” he said. “I hope we will see in which situations the people in different countries are living, in Europe, but also in other parts of our world.”

Prior to his current position, Kleindiek was Secretary of State for Justice and Gender Equality in Hamburg; Head of the Central Directorate-General and IT Commissioner of the Federal Ministry of Justice; Head of Directorate and head of the Executive Staff at the Federal Ministry of Justice, and Head of office for the German Federal Minister of Justice, Brigitte Zypries.

Check out the discussion between Klaus Mueller and Ralf Kleindiek in this year's report from the third annual Salzburg Global LGBT Forum.


The Salzburg Global program Strengthening Communities: LGBT Rights & Social Cohesion is part of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. The list of our partners for Session 551 can be found here. For more information, please visit: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/551