Opening address by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the international conference "Breaking the Walls of Silence: Addressing Homophobia and Transphobia in Education"
Ljubljana, 19. 2. 2013 | speech
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We are all different. We all belong to minorities, of one sort or another. Our society must protect the right to our own different identities.
This is, in fact, a standard of the progress of civilisation. We must not underestimate what has been achieved. But at the same time, we must not be satisfied with it. Social prejudice and legal norms change only slowly.
Education is often the most difficult part of it. It is difficult because the generation that educates is changing itself in the process. But this is also an elementary condition of the opening of society to everyone.
This is why I sincerely welcome and support this international conference.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
The economic crisis we are experiencing also raises moral issues. Although economic justice and equality are the prominent aspects, it also raises the issue of tolerance and humanity in general. As progressive intellectual forces are striving for a better future, they must also consider this dimension: the respect for diversity in every sense.
Welfare is not merely an economic category. It is a social category. It is not only a question of the relationship between the rich and the poor. It is also a question of the protection of all types of minorities from a silent or loud violence of the majority. In this sense, a fairer society of the future is not only a society that creates equal opportunities for all in the economic sense, but also in the ethical sense. This is of crucial importance for the new paradigm of the society of the 21st
The sexual orientation of individuals is a matter of their personal freedom. It is limited only by the freedom of others. Nothing in contemporary society can and or can be allowed to move these borders. We do know, however, that everyday practice reveals a different picture. Prejudice remains remarkably strong. It is therefore extremely important to eliminate such prejudice in the framework of the education system. The very decision that this is the mission of this system is important in itself. The school system is, in fact, an ideological apparatus of the state (Althusser, Louis). If education about diversity and for diversity is its counterpart, we will gradually overcome such prejudice more successfully and permanently.
In this respect, it is not only a duty of the civil society to strive for tolerance and solidarity, but also a task of the state. Considerable progress has been made in this field in the previous few decades. Today's conference is, after all, supported by the European Union. This is gratifying for those brave individuals and interest groups that stood up for their rights by themselves, without any help. This is a duty of society and the state today, when these rights must be carefully protected, both at the level of the legislation and at the level of everyday tolerance.