Posted on Mon 24 Apr 2017 at 14:17 by Callum Aldcroft
Events, like the current situation in Chechnya, serve to remind us that the battle for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion is far from over. What is happening there is nothing short of torture, it violates human rights, it is deliberately imprisoning hundreds of men just for who they love – it is not okay that this ever happened, and it’s certainly not okay that it is still happening.
It makes me so angry and sad to see that this can still happen in 2017 – when we have had so many victories on LGBTQ+ rights, and many people seem to think the LGBTQ+ community has achieved equality. It reminds us that we still have so far to go – and the fact that gay men are being held in concentration camps and murdered in Chechnya shows that any progress we have made can be lost. It is vital that we do not relent, and we do not stop calling people out for their homophobia and their transphobia – whoever and wherever they might be. We must fight for those who can’t, for those who we have lost – enough of our history has been erased through death whether that is those who died of AIDs and government inaction, those who took their own lives, and those who had their lives taken from them as we’re seeing now in Chechnya. We must offer our support and send our solidarity to LGBTQ+ people living in nations where their sexuality or gender identity is illegal – and we must support them in their fight.
We must not forget to look critically at our own government – we must hold them to account when they are deporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers to countries where they face immense threat, we must hold them to account when they ask LGBTQ refugees to prove their sexuality, we must hold them to account when they ignore the impact of colonialism that means people have to flee due to persecution based on their sexuality and gender identity. This is particularly important now we enter a general election and the LGBT Conservatives are already tweeting about how they are the only party to support LGBTQ+ people.
The government did not care about LGBTQ+ rights until they could use them to oppress others or win votes – and we must forget the politics of who they do and don’t condemn. Whilst they use LGBTQ+ rights as an excuse to bomb Syria and wage war in the Middle East, Theresa May still has not spoken out about the situation in Chechnya and continues to seek stronger relationships with Russia. We cannot forget this double-standard, and we should certainly not forgive. We might fight back every time we see our rights be used to wage war and to murder innocent people, just as we gather together now to condemn Russia and to send our solidarity to the gay men in Chechnya.
Those of us with the most privilege within the community - white people, cis people, non-disabled people - must take on some of the burden of the fight as it is less likely to be our lives on the line – and we must centre the voices of the most marginalised.
It is not enough for us to just gather here today and say “never again”; we must take this fight into every area of our lives and make the world a better place. We must remember what it is like to be a young lgbt person growing up, especially hearing about Chechnya, hearing about Orlando, hearing about the murders of trans women of colour – and we must be there to make sure that they make it to adulthood and that the next generations don’t have to carry on fighting.
I don’t know about you – but I am tired of fighting for rights that should be a given. I am tired of hearing of young lgbt people who have taken their lives. I am tired of the increased risk of sexual violence for lesbian, trans, and bisexual women. I am tired of having to assimilate and be a “nice”, PG 13 queer.
Most of all, I am tired of having to stand here condemning the systemic killing of LGBTQ+ people because this isn’t a fight we should still be having to have.