Gay rights should not be harnessed to an Islamophobic agenda

In a brilliant exposé the Guardian reported how a lone man held up a pink triangle at a demonstration of the English Defence League – one of the most openly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic organisations in the country. When the reporter asked him what it was for he replied nervously: “This is the symbol gay people were made to wear under Hitler. Islam poses the same threat and we are here to express our opposition to that.”

Given fascism’s history of violent and outspoken homophobia, the news that the EDL would have a 115-strong lesbian, gay and transgender wing would appear, at the very least, incongruous.

But in fact it just the most glaring example of the misguided and ill-informed shift in our nationalist discourse that has moved the emphasis from creed to culture and race to religion in a bid to erect a moral rampart between the a mythological modern, enlightened, progressive west and the demonised medieval, backward, bigoted south. Far from being a contradiction confined to the far right, these issues have taken on totemic significance in the mainstream in the broadside against both multiculturalism in general and non-European immigration in particular as though they were inimicable with the principles of social equality.

Gary Younge in the Guardian, 7 June 2010