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Seminar on How Homophobic Viewpoints Are Developed and Abandoned

In cooperation with the Red Line pilot project and IKARus, the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen held a two-day training program in mid-March on “Language and Viewpoints – How Homophobic Views Are Developed and Abandoned.” With a total of 16 participants, the aim of the training was to create an awareness of the language used in Nazism and develop a sensitization of those people who express prejudices or crossed the "red line" to join the extreme right. “Analyzing linguistic patterns may reveal prejudices and categorize them for the purposes of prevention or might ensure that prejudices do not even occur,” said Dr. Reiner Becker, head of the Red Line project.

Today the dehumanizing language of the Nazis is not tolerated, but one can still find traces of it in everyday language. Moreover, prejudices are replaced by subtle figures of speech that are overtly homophobic. And right-wing extremists consciously use language to create opposition. “So, some old patterns are reflected as ideological flaws even in the present times,” said Dr Susanne Urban, Head of Research and Education at the ITS. “Language and patterns repeat themselves, even if language is modernized.”

The seminar targeted educators, social workers, and policemen, as well as youth workers and network consultants. First, they develop a self-awareness of speech and behavior patterns, to become sensitized to the contexts and effects that these have. In this way, their work in prevention, intervention, or other similar areas, will allow them to design and plan more specifically and practically. In addition, the seminar looked into social and local contexts in the past and present in which victims and perpetrators acted. The democratic roots of young people between recognition and rejection were also examined. “We easily judge. But there is always the question of what brings a person into a certain position. It then often becomes more complicated,” said Peter Korstian of IKARus.

The participants were enthusiastic about the contents of the seminar, which managed the balance between past and present. They also expressed the desire to be able to flesh out certain topics more. “This awareness should go back to those who are right-wing extremists or are in the wake of other homophobic trends in democratic regions, wherever possible. This also means one should reflect on language and divest oneself from specific behavior patterns,” commented Becker. “We will continue to provide this series of seminars in all cases.”

About the Pilot Project Red Line

The pilot project “Red Line – Help for Abandoning before Developing” provides advice, training, and information for parents and relatives of young people who are oriented to the extreme right. The combination of parental advice, separating from the extreme right scene, and educational work with young people, provides more comprehensive awareness and coordinated intervention opportunities for preventing the development of the extreme right-wing. 

About IKARus

The office of the Project IKARus - Information and Authority Center for Abandoning Right-Wing Extremism” - is the first contact address, consultant, coach, and concrete service in Hesse to help in leaving the right-wing extremists. Working with young people who want to leave the right-wing scene is varied and touches many diverse problems. Therefore, because of this diversity, specially qualified police officers and administrative staff work in partnership along with professional social workers.