Gay rights, Islamophobia and double standards

Pride flagOver at the neocon blog Harry’s Place, Brett Lock of gay rights group OutRage! finally gets round to addressing the disgraceful campaign in Israel to ban the Jerusalem Pride march, which takes place tomorrow.

Brett omits any condemnation of, or indeed reference to, the threats of violence from Orthodox Jews or the appeal by the Mayor of Jerusalem to Israel’s High Court to stop the march, and it is now fully two weeks since the anti-Pride bills successfully passed their first reading in the Knesset.

This tardy and rather half-hearted response by Brett – and the failure of OutRage! or the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association to make any statement at all on the issue – stands in sharp contrast to the energy with which they all laid into Russia’s grand mufti last year over Moscow Pride. Somehow, OutRage! and GALHA seem to find homophobia so much more worthy of denunciation when it’s Muslims who are responsible for it.

In fact one might suspect that Brett’s belated post at Harry’s Place is little more than an attempt to cover OutRage! against criticisms by the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism, who issued a statement last weekend accusing Brett and his chums of hypocrisy. We can only endorse those criticisms.

LAGCAR statement, 17 June 2007

The lesbian and gay rights movement stands for the fundamental principle that respect for lesbian and gay rights must be universal. Cynical attempts to highlight the denial of these rights in one place, while remaining silent when these universal human rights are attacked because of a different approach to certain forces or regimes, is base hypocrisy. Doing this is not engaging in the struggle to advance universal lesbian and gay human rights, but the pursuit of quite other objectives to which the struggle for lesbian and gay liberation is cynically subordinated.

That is why the Lesbian and Gay Coalition against Racism is moved to condemned the failure of Outrage, Galha, Peter Tatchell and other self-proclaimed champions of lesbian and gay rights in not speaking out forcefully against the current attacks on these rights by the highest bodies of the state of Israel and the homophobic violence and abuse which these attacks legitimise.

On 5 June the Knesset, the Parliament of the State of Israel voted in favour of bills to ban lesbian and gay pride parades amid waves of homophobic bigotry by members of that body. Shimon Peres, the recently elected President of Israel, has also opposed holding a Lesbian and Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. These positions, passed in their first reading by a large majority by the highest bodies of the State of Israel, take place in the context of violent physical attacks by Israeli extremists on the attempts to hold Pride events in Jerusalem over the last three years with the immensely powerful forces of the State of Israel effectively standing to one side.

We are appalled by the fact that Outrage, Galha, Peter Tatchell and others who have distinguished themselves by the speed of their quite proper defence of lesbian and gay rights when these have been attacked by Black, Arab, Muslim forces or regimes have still refused to condemn with equal force the official attacks on lesbian and gay rights by the highest institutions of the State of Israel.

Those who stand for universal respect for lesbian and gay rights cannot echo the hypocrisy of the politicians and media who defend these rights when they are abused by forces or regimes which they wish to attack for quite other reasons, but ignore such abuses when carried out by regimes or forces for which they effectively act as apologists, no matter what their crimes, not only against lesbian and gay people but also in terms of other human rights violations.

Unfortunately, the long silence of Outrage, Galha, Peter Tatchell and others in defending lesbian and gay rights against attacks by the State of Israel, poses the fundamental question of whether or not their fundamental objectives are to uphold lesbian and gay rights at all times and in all places or whether they indicate the selective degree of energy with which they defend these rights in subordination to other agendas.

As such hypocrisy is completely untenable for any organisation or individual that claims to stand for the universal human rights of lesbian and gay people, we are sure that these people will sooner or later have no alternative but to condemn these attacks. But their long delay in doing so and their failure to give them anything the prominence they give to similar or lesser actions by other forces should give all of those committed to these principles pause for thought.

For our part, we condemn the blatant bigotry and attacks on lesbian and gay rights by the President and Parliament of Israel and call upon all supporters of lesbian and gay rights to join us in campaigning for these decisions to be repudiated.

We also oppose the base hypocrisy of those who rightly condemn attacks on lesbian and gay rights by one nationality, ethnicity or religion but choose to ignore it, or give it less prominence, in the case of other groups who for one reason or other, the dominant media and governments in the West wish to support.