Center for the Study of Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation

The aim of the work of the Centre is to research the causes and consequences of the discrimination in many states of the world on grounds of sexual orientation and to set this topic into the interdisciplinary teaching agenda of one of the biggest German Universities – The FU Berlin.
  • In view of the increasing aggressiveness of religious communities against homosexuals it is the task of researchers to bring rationality to this worldwide discussion of values and thus create a counterweight to irrational prejudice which leads to violation of dignity, freedom of lifestyle and in not a few cases to life threatening state sanctioned persecution. Thus in 75 countries worldwide homosexuality is punishable by the state, even to the extent of the death penalty.
  • Political Science, particularly from the approach of the Otto-Suhr Institute, should always contribute to the improvement of human living conditions. It is not just a question of the abstract search for the good state, the most just world order, but also specifically to protect the individual in his dignity and freedom. In this attempt we seek to work with Berlin initiatives such as the Magnus Hirschfeld Institute, Queer Nations, the Lesbian and Gay Museum, institutes at the City University New York, Utrecht and Amsterdam and organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
  • This should be carried out with the maximum possible active participation of interested students. Thus the Centre attempts to involve students in its research activities, very much as at Yale. The success of this initiative depends very much on this involvement. So far, twelve students have agreed to take part. After a seminar with the title ‘Discrimination and Sexual Orientation’ took place in the Summer Semester 2006, a course with the same title was offered in the Winter Semester 2006 – 2007 under the leadership of Professors Elsworthy and Mengel, attended by about 20 students. The project course work was continued in the Summer Semester 2007. In particular, a focal point of current course activity will be to address the question, how can freedom of sexual orientation be recognised as an elementary human right under international law and why resistance to it is so vehement.
  • When one recalls that in one of today’s main buildings of the Otto-Suhr Institiute, Ihnestr 22, eugenic research, even to the ‘eradication’ and ‘curability’ of homosexuality took place and that until 1969 in the German Federal Republic many citizens were imprisoned on grounds of their sexual orientation under the legal statute 175 which had been intensified by the Nazis, the special responsibility of German Political Science becomes clear.
  • The Centre is a part of the area of research of Professor Mengel and is situated in his rooms in an old Dahlem villa near the main building of the Otto-Suhr Institute of the Free University, Berlin. We are happy to take enquiries, and to receive help and support for our work.

(CSDSO, January 2007)