Derbyshire Pride was due to be held in Derby city centre on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to the torrential rain the organisers had to call it off. This year, Derbyshire’s rain sodden LGBT community were joined by some unlikely punters – members of the various East Midlands divisions of the English Defence League.
The EDL were there, they said, to valiantly defend the Pride marchers against a threatened protest by a sad little group of homophobic Muslims, rather pompously named the Derby Muslim Action Force. A previous protest at Pride in 2010 managed to draw a grand total of 14 homophobes compared with the hundreds of participants in the event itself. It is not clear whether any of those involved in Pride were asked whether they wanted the EDL to attend or why the EDL thought they would be unable to protect themselves.
Now excuse me for being a little cynical but I suspect that the EDL, an organisation not known for its deep understanding of and sympathy towards LGBT issues, might have an ulterior motive here. Perhaps an opportunity to fight some Muslims and not look bad for a change? Perhaps an opportunity to fake some pro-LGBT credentials in the run up to their Bristol march (on the same day as Bristol Pride) next Saturday?
I say fake them because the EDL has a long history of homophobia and transphobia within its ranks, something that is condoned by the leadership of the organisation, although they never fail to use it as a stick to beat Muslims with. For example whilst Tommy Robinson has said “We have preachers of hate flying into this country regularly – week in, week out – promoting homophobia, homophobic views, anti-democratic views, just promoting hatred”, he himself invited the virulently homophobic Christian preacher, Terry Jones to the UK to speak. Jones has opposed the election of a homosexual mayor with the slogan “No Homo Mayor” and has joined in homophobic campaigns with other extremist churches. Robinson, along with far right bedfellow, Paul Weston, leader of the British Freedom Party, has teamed up with the US-based Christian Action Network, granting them interviews on a number of occasions. CAN campaigns against gays and abortion as well as being anti-Muslim. When Ellen Degeneres came out CAN founder Martin Mawyer said that she was “dumping her filthy lesbian lifestyle right in the center of your living room” and that “If we allow the tidal wave of gay and lesbian smut to continue to pour into our homes, it will utterly consume us in no time at all!” The truth is that the EDL will cosy up to any islamophobes, regardless of their stance on homosexuality.
It’s no surprise, given this opportunistic approach to LGBT rights, that the most virulent homophobia and transphobia by the EDL’s footsoldiers is tolerated. For example, when the EDL Angels had a demo in London, the overwhelmingly male attendees heckled female counter-demonstrators with chants of “lesbian scum” and “back to the kitchen”. This is just the tip of the iceberg though, and EDL News have collected an archive of just some of the many homophobic and transphobic views expressed by EDL members, including the fabled LGBT division itself! From calling people faggots to accusing all homosexuals of being paedophiles, saying that sodomy is perverted and that gays kissing in public are sick, openly homophobic views seem to be quite acceptable within the EDL.
All of which has, unsurprisingly, led many LGBT rights campaigners to see the EDL as an enemy. Alan Shore writes “it sickens me when the Far Right and the EDL in particular jump on this bandwagon when they are clearly as bad if not worse than the other scum that gay people have to deal with everyday”. Prominent gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has simultaneously campaigned against the racism of the EDL and the homophobia of Islamists and has an interesting account of his experiences. Members of the EDL have since said he should be killed.
The East Midlands Infidels’ sudden interest in LGBT issues isn’t part of any consistent promotion of human rights or freedom. More than anything, it appears to be a smokescreen for setting up a fight with some of Derby’s most reactionary Muslims. As anti-fascists we must oppose both groups but given their relative strength, the EDL are the more important homophobes to target.