The Estonian information portal, koroonakaart.ee, that provided multilingual real-time data on the coronavirus in Estonia, ceased operations on 22 October as the site’s co-developer, Keegan McBride, decided to protest against the current Estonian government’s homophobic attitude.
“The current government coalition has shown time and time again that, to them, some people are more equal than others. During a global pandemic, when families all around Estonia are suffering, the government’s most pressing issue is whether or not two people who love each other can get married,” McBride, the website’s project manager, posted on the site.
“This portal was originally built to support the government in providing clear and accurate information to the Estonian people. However, as project manager, a foreigner and a supporter of LGBTQ rights, I can no longer keep this site up and running in support of a government that does not uphold the Estonian constitution or help create a more tolerant acceptable society,” McBride added.
His protest came in the wake of the current coalition’s decision to carry on as normal, despite the homophobic remarks made by Mart Helme, Estonia’s interior minister and the deputy leader of the far-right Estonian Conservative People’s Party.
In a subsequent interview to Estonian news portal, Delfi, McBride explained further. “I have a cousin who got engaged to his boyfriend just this week. I have another cousin who is transgender. I have seen, felt and heard their pain when the leaders of their country have said that they are not wanted in their country or that they are considered inferior,” he told Delfi.
Ready to pass the website on
“I have direct experience through my family members, I know how painful it was for them to listen to it in the United States. Now the Estonian government is saying these things and I understand how vulnerable it is to the Estonian LGBTQ community,” McBride, an American, said.
However, McBride noted that koroonakaart.ee is made with open source and he is ready to pass it on to anyone who wants to continue with it.
Koroonakaart.ee was created in March during the Estonian-initiated online hackathon, “Hack the Crisis”, to tackle the coronavirus crisis. Although the Estonian government runs another platform on COVID-19 data, koroonakaart.ee was also usable on a mobile phone and was multilingual – in addition to Estonian, the site was also in English and Russian.
Keegan McBride has lived in Estonia for five years. He is fluent in Estonian and wants to stay in the country.
Cover: Keegan McBride. Private collection.