Guido Westerwelle, Germany’s openly gay Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor, will preside over the 2010 Cologne Gay Games opening ceremony on July 31 at RheinEnergie Stadium in Cologne.

Dr Westerwelle has also agreed to become an “official patron” of the 8th Gay Games.

“We are so pleased to have found such a prominent advocate. With his commitment Dr Guido Westerwelle sends an important signal for more tolerance and acceptance of gays and lesbians in our society,” Games Cologne CEO Annette Wachter said.

Westerwelle has been the Chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) since 2001, and previously was the party’s General Secretary.

In October 2009 German Chancellor Angela Merkel named him the country’s foreign minister and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the first openly gay person to hold either office.

He holds a law degree from Bonn University and has been an active member of the FDP since 1980. Dr

Westerwelle has been openly gay in his political life since he ascended to the chairmanship of the FDP in 2001.

Between July 31 and August 7 this year, Cologne will be the showplace for the world’s largest gay and lesbian event. About 12,000 athletes and artists from 70 countries will take part in sports competitions and cultural exhibitions.

More than 45,000 are expected at the opening ceremony at RheinEnergie Stadium, Cologne’s famous soccer stadium.

The Gay Games are a sports and cultural event that take place every four years. Open to everyone regardless of age, ability, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, the 2010 Gay Games are the 8th of the quadrennial games.

The mission of the Gay Games is to dispel stereotypes and foster tolerance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in an open, welcoming environment focused on healthy lifestyles.

“The overwhelming acceptance of Dr Westerwelle’s openness is an excellent example of the ability of people with different sexual orientations to live and work together,” Wachter said.

“His support of Gay Games VIII Cologne 2010 is a significant contribution that should allow the participants to experience even greater acceptance throughout the competition and in their everyday lives.”

info: Gay Games VIII will be held in Cologne, Germany on 31 July-7 August 2010 and information is available at www.games-cologne.com.

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