The commotion surrounding the ‘rainbow portal’ of the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (the European Conservative reported earlier) has sparked renewed discussion about the ideological indoctrination of minors. We met with Mariana Harder-Kühnel, chair of the Family Committee and deputy federal spokesman of the AfD, to discuss the latest findings, as well as the family policies of the AfD.
Mariana Harder-Kühnel was born on August 16th, 1974, in the town of Gelnhausen in the German state of Hesse, where she still resides. She is married, the mother of three children, and professes the Roman Catholic faith. In 2013, the founding year of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), she joined the party. Until her election to the German Bundestag in 2017, she worked as a lawyer, including for an international accounting firm. Since then, she has represented the AfD parliamentary group as chair of the Family Committee. In 2019, she was nominated by her parliamentary group as a candidate for the office of Bundestag vice president, and in 2022 she was elected deputy federal spokesman for her party.
The ‘discovery’ of the so-called ‘rainbow portal’ of the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) led to harsh criticism of the trivialization of medications such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and even sex reassignment surgery. In your opinion, what is the intention behind making such information available to minors?
Even children are being made to question their biological sex. Young people are taught that they can interfere with their natural development and be anything by artificially manipulating their own bodies. Especially adolescents, who are often still in a phase of self-discovery at their age, are irresponsibly confronted with ideas to which they would otherwise never be amenable. They are given the impression that they do not have to deal with possible objections from their parents in these matters. They are literally incited to rebel, endangering family peace in the process. This corresponds to the ideology of the radical Left, which pursues the political goal of dissolving the traditional family and the two biological sexes.
The outrage over the ‘rainbow portal’ was triggered by a tweet from MP Julia Klöckner of the CDU, but it later turned out that the criticized content had been online since 2019, the time of the grand coalition. At that time, the reigning CDU led by Angela Merkel gave this website a pass. Now though, when in opposition, Ms. Klöckner is outraged about this content. Is it ignorance or opportunism that drives the CDU here?
Julia Klöckner, just like the head of the party Friedrich Merz, or like Wolfgang Bosbach, serves as a sham conservative fig leaf for the CDU in order to continue to bind bourgeois voters to itself. Her admission is nothing more than a staged distancing from her own political arbitrariness. The CDU has never been a conservative party in the classical sense, but for many decades the party understood how to integrate a conservative wing into its leadership. But now we have to state: since then, the CDU has opened itself up even to political positions of the radical Left in order to maintain power, something that would have been completely unthinkable 20 years ago. Under Angela Merkel’s leadership, the CDU’s adoption of social-democratic and green ideology received a major boost, and the CDU has since developed into a party of the center-Left. On the other hand, there is also much to suggest that Klöckner was simply unaware that the CDU was largely responsible for the rainbow portal. In that case, her public criticism would have been forbidden, if only for reasons of party cohesion.
Green ideology has become the norm for almost all parties in Germany when it comes to many social and family policy issues. Anyone looking for a parliamentary alternative on these issues must put their hope onto the AfD, but as recently as July, chairman Tino Chrupalla went on record in an interview that he considered the question of “hetero or homo parenthood” to be a “private decision,” as is the question of whether or not he supports “marriage for all” and even abortion. In light of this, how can the AfD in general, and you in particular, represent a credible, conservative family policy?
Article 6 of the Common Law places marriage and the family under the special protection of the state. In previous instances, the Federal Constitutional Court had repeatedly emphasized that the original idea of this fundamental right was to recognize the value of traditional marriage between a man and a woman, as well as of the traditional family, from which children and thus new citizens can emerge naturally, as the nucleus of society. It is in the very interest of all states to preserve their own people and thus ensure their survival—also in economic terms. Such a conservative view does not contradict the unconditional respect for people with homosexual orientation. On the contrary, respect for the dignity of all people is a very high priority for conservatives. In addition, the Federal Constitutional Court has clarified in a landmark decision that it is not only the task of the state to adequately protect unborn life and to encourage pregnant women to carry the child to term, but that the public media also has a constitutional obligation to contribute to this end. As a conservative party, we will keep pointing this out.
A central part of your work is dedicated to family policy. This comes with many overlaps with other fields, ranging from the economic issues caused by the common need for double income, to cultural hegemony through the propagation of certain role models and the early sexualization of children. In addition to the important parliamentary work by the AfD, what necessary developments in extra-parliamentary work do you see as central to being able to bring about an overall societal change in family policy?
Since the majority of the leading media outlets in Germany are politically left-leaning, and they either negatively evaluate or completely disregard classically conservative issues in general and conservative parties like the AfD in particular, it is up to us to introduce these issues into the public debate. For the AfD, however, it is clear that even with the best quality and quantity of our actual parliamentary work we can only reach a limited circle of voters and citizens.
Therefore, this work must indeed be supplemented by meaningful extra-parliamentary activities that make us visible to ordinary citizens on the street—such as issue-driven rallies or demonstrations that take place in public places. However, the issues and political demands addressed there must interest large sections of the population to such an extent that they are willing to participate and join us in publicly communicating their desire for a change in policy. As an example of this, I can cite the successful non-partisan ‘March for Life’ which focused on the protection of unborn life. Thousands of citizens from all generations took part, including myself. This allowed an important issue to be brought to public attention outside of parliaments. In addition, it is worthwhile to support non-profit associations that work independently for the rights of children or parents. Without great commitment from civil society, it would be impossible to sufficiently assert the interests of citizens against governments. And, of course, recourse to online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok is essential for stimulating broad discussion around these concerns.
Gender ideology is not only making its rounds in Germany; it is a dominant factor internationally. In many European countries, however, there is ideological resistance among conservative and right-wing parties, which is beginning to bear fruit in some places. In your opinion, are there any particular role models that you can follow, or are there any efforts on the part of the AfD to strengthen European cooperation in this area?
Gender ideology is an ideological construct of the radical Left and has therefore indeed, against the will of the majority populations, been able to gain a foothold in the left-leaning liberal states of Western Europe. This constructed worldview is naturally at odds with conservative values, as represented by the AfD. The networking of all conservatives in Europe is not a question, but a necessity. In the German-speaking world, I see the greatest political overlap with the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which consistently oppose radical left-wing intellectual attitudes such as gender ideology. These parties have been established in their respective countries for decades, carry out successful, substantive work right down to the smallest municipalities, and can thus certainly serve as role models for us. We have been working together with the FPÖ and other national conservative parties such as the Italian Lega and the French Rassemblement National (RN) on a basis of trust for some time now in the Identity and Democracy Group in the Parliament of the European Union. I also follow the activities of the Sweden Democrats and Hungary’s Fidesz, led by conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, with great interest. The German government should urgently take a cue from his resolute family and population policy.