A young Austrian
politician named Stefan Petzner recently revealed on
Austrian radio that he had been involved in a romantic
relationship with Joerg Haider, chairman of the
far-right Austrian party BZO, who recently died
in a car accident.
News of the love
affair did not come as a major shock to Austria's
population. In the past several months, a rival far-right
party, the FPO, alluded on many occasions to
Haider's homosexuality. Harald Vilimsky, the
secretary-general of the FPO, was one of his biggest
detractors and often made such allegations during
press conferences. Haider was chairman of the FPO
before breaking away in 2000; he created his own party in
2005. The rivalry between the two parties has been
Haider died in a
car accident October 11 at the age of 58. He was driving
alone on a highway in Carinthia, a province of which he had
been governor for many years. On October 17 the
Austrian daily Osterreich published pictures of
him in a gay bar in Carinthia that were taken only a
few hours before the accident.
According to the
paper, Haider had been accompanied by a younger man with
whom he allegedly shared a bottle of vodka (tests after the
accident revealed that Haider had been under the
influence of alcohol). Other Austrian papers later
reported that Haider and Petzner had had a serious
fight that night.
The gay French
magazine Tetu recently reported that
Haider's widow had filed a complaint against the
prosecutor who told the media about Haider being in
the gay bar, claiming that publication of this
information could seriously harm their two daughters.
to Austrian radio the "special relationship"
he had shared with Haider, whom he described as his
"life partner" and later as "the
man of [his] life," the BBC reported Thursday. This
differs markedly from the words Petzner used during a
press conference right after Haider's death,
when he called Haider his "best friend" before
bursting into tears.
always tried to keep his homosexuality secret, his party
favored recognition of same-sex couples in Austria, one of
the few countries in Europe that does not provide gays
and lesbians with any kind of legal partnership. In
contrast to this political position, the FPO has
taken a stand against marriage and adoption rights for gays.
The parties have similar stands on many issues,
however; they support the same strong anti-immigration
and anti-European Union policies. Haider also was
known for making anti-Semitic statements, which caused
outrage throughout Europe. (Thibault
Chareton, The Advocate)