‘Pinkwashing’: equality and racism
About two weeks ago I read an interesting comment online by a student after homophobic leaflets were given out at a UKIP conference.
Someone had commented that this was “unacceptable” but it had also “undermined the good work” of LGBT UKIPers; a group of LGBTQ people in support of UKIP.
Now, I couldn’t understand why someone who supposedly cares a lot about equality (for everyone, I assumed) would align themselves with a racist party.
And yes, UKIP is a racist party.
I am not a fan of any struggle that is single-focused or single-layered, struggles should take in wider social and political issues.
We should oppose this ‘pinkwashing’ of sorts; a deliberate highlighting of support for a certain group at the same time ignoring and downplaying other groups who are just as worthy of equality.
For me LGBTQ rights and women’s rights are inseparable from wider political and social issues of justice, including anti-racism.
Some of these struggles have unfortunately been used in the promotion of racist ideologies in Europe. For example, the German Lesbian and Gay Federation previously issued statements citing Muslim immigrants as the “enemies of gay people”.
This xenophobia not only homogenises and essentializes whole communities and ignores allies within these communities. It only feeds into the dangerous Us vs. Them narrative.
Real equality secures rights for all, not just some.
The struggle for equality in certain places should not blind us from fights against racism elsewhere.
Another example of this is LGBTQ people who support Israel so much and regard it as the ‘LGBTQ haven’ in the Middle East.
Nothing is mentioned about the LGBTQ Palestinians who face the same checkpoints, apartheid wall and occupation just like their straight counterparts.
This rainbow of equality does not extend to millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control and occupation.
Even inside Israel, a few LGBTQ Palestinians live as stateless and undocumented migrants. Does that sound like liberation to you?
As if an apartheid wall segregating the Palestinian people has nothing to do with human rights. There is no such thing as ‘pride’ in racism of parties such as UKIP here or apartheid regimes elsewhere.
People who work hard for equal rights should not allow the language of women’s rights and LGBT rights to become appropriated. Nor for it to be used as a PR tool to justify systematic discrimination or bloody wars.
Intersectionality is key for the LGBTQ community and feminists around the world and real solidarity means listening and not allowing patronising views and white-saviour, neo-colonial discourses to attack and undermine whole communities claiming to know what’s best for them.
Fight racism and free Palestine.