People with diverse lifestyles, identities and cultures live in Thuringia, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex and queer people (LGBTIQ people). Several studies show an ambivalent attitude of the so-called majority society towards this group of people. The study “Queeres Deutschland – Zwischen Wertschätzung und Vorbehalten” (Queer Germany – Between esteem and reservation) conducted by the Change Centre Foundation in 2015 shows that Thuringia is “at the top of discomfort” in a nationwide comparison. 59.3% of the respondents said that they were uncomfortable to be considered homosexual by new people, only 52.9% of the respondents from Thuringia welcomed queer people in their neighbourhood and only 42,4% expressed themselves in favour of an increase in cultural appreciation of homosexuality in Germany. The Thüringen Monitor 2015 also provides findings for homophobia in Thuringia.
From another point of view, almost half of the LGBTIQ* people surveyed reported experiences of discrimination in a survey of the Vielfalt Leben – QueerWeg Verein für Thüringen e.V. and the KomRex (Centre for Research on Right-Wing Extremism, Democracy Education and Social Integration) from the FSU Jena in 2017,. This has been experienced in various forms, including schools and in public. The study shows a negative effect of these experiences on individual life satisfaction. At the same time, the respondents are largely unaware of any counselling or contact points.
An explorative study from 2018 by the IDZ-Jena, the KomRex of the FSU Jena and the EAH Jena shows that there is a lack of counselling services for LGBTIQ* people in the local government of Thuringia. It also became clear that the local governments surveyed (in particular equal opportunity commissioners and registry offices) are not very aware of the concerns of LGBTIQ* people and have little knowledge of counselling services provided by other institutions.
The coming-out study of the Deutsches Jugendinstitut (German Youth Insitute) published in 2015 clearly shows that the leisure and counselling services for young people and young adults in the LSBTIQ* community leave a lot to be desired. The few opportunities are mostly found in large cities and are short-lived, as they are not supported by public funds, although 76% of respondents find support helpful.
The studies mentioned above show that, despite advanced legal normalization, there are still considerable prejudices against LGBTIQ* people. At the same time, there are hardly any specific contact or counselling centers in Thuringia for this target group and the ones existing work almost exclusively on a voluntary basis.
With a queer center in Erfurt we set a visible example of freedom, respect, diversity and equal opportunities. Thereby the living conditions of many people in the city and in Thuringia are improved and a long-term perspective for living in Erfurt develops. Such an initial situation results in further impulses for a civil society engagement and a connecting structure for existing and emerging offers.
Our queer center as a modern, sustainable and future-ready infrastructure for LGBTIQ* people as well as other addressed and interested target groups of the general population works on three levels:
A psychosocial offer specializing in LGBTIQ* people within a protected, low-threshold frame
Diverse educational programs to promote acceptance among the general population and to support self-esteem-promoting identity formation of LGBTIQ* and other people.
Improvement and stabilization of resources and quality of offers within the scene, synergy effects for local and regional groups, promotion of solidarity and the joint representation of interests of LGBTIQ* people, their lifestyles and groups and offers in the Erfurt area.