Friday, October 24, 2008 at 5:55 AM
Supporters of the right-wing political party, the Alliance for Austria’s Future, are struggling today to come to terms with the public confession of their new leader, Stephan Petzner (right), about the intimate relationship he had with his predecessor and party founder, Joerg Haider (left), who was killed recently in a car crash.
Incidentally, if you’ve never heard of this party or its founder, just imagine supporters of the fiscally conservative Reform Party of America finding out that billionaire Ross Perot – who founded it based on his personal integrity and reputation as a successful businessman – was a serial embezzler.
At any rate, not since right-wing US Senator Larry Craig was busted for soliciting gay sex in a public toilet last year has a politician, namely Haider, been outed as such a flaming hypocrite. After all, like Craig, Haider laced his intolerant political ideology with platitudes about traditional family values that made homosexuals seem less than human.
Let me hasten to clarify, however, that the only reason I revel in the outing of hypocrites like Craig and Haider is that they are professed Christian conservatives who legislate against gay rights during the day, then cruise for gay sex at night.
[Senator Craig insists he’s not gay, The iPINIONS Journal, August 29, 2007]
Alas, in a tearful confession earlier this week, Petzner revealed that they “had a personal relationship that went far beyond friendship.” Moreover, reports are that Haider, 58, “drove his car off the road” on October 11 after having a lovers’ spat with Petzner, 27, at a gay bar. And, reinforcing his hypocrisy, the self-proclaimed abstemious Haider had a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit.
Meanwhile, Haider was married and had two daughters. And it is telling that friends of his wife now say that she often complained that he spent more time with Petzner than with her. Yet party elders seem determined to preserve his legacy as a fascist demagogue and family man, insisting in an official statement yesterday that “Mr. Petzner wasn’t his lover.”
Haider could be having sex in front of the cameras with a man, and Austrians would pretend not to see it. I am surprised that it has not been greeted as a bigger deal, but that is because people are still in denial.
[Christian Högl, a spokesman for Hosi, the oldest gay rights group in Austria]
Clearly, Petzner will be lucky if he survives another week as party leader….