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Global Solidarity vs. Homophobia: Interview with Doug Ireland

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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 06:50 PM
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Global Solidarity vs. Homophobia: Interview with Doug Ireland
Editors Note: Doug Ireland is a journalist who has been a contributor to numerous major publications, including The Nation, In These Times, Village Voice, LA Weekly,, New York Gay City News, and many others.

Global Solidarity vs. Homophobia: Interview with Doug Ireland

By Joel Wendland

PA: What would you like to see in terms of international solidarity?

DI: I have written about this a number of commentaries in the gay press, which you can find on my website. The US national gay organizations, like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), must abandon their isolationism. They must embrace the issue of gay oppression around the world. If were to say that we have a gay movement that has any meaning, that is not just a bunch of self-satisfied bourgeois gays who send checks to organizations promoting gay marriage but instead are really engaged with the global human project of gay liberation, then our national gay groups have to devote some resources to educating and organizing around these issues of gay oppression in other countries. Another example is that they were completely silent until the very last minutes, in the case of NGLTF, on the Moscow Pride situation. When Moscow Gay Pride was banned by the Mayor of Moscow and then broken up by police and fascist gangs that were allowed to beat up demonstrators, the ban had been in place for months and months. There were demonstrations all over Europe about this, but HRC did nothing at all, and the NGLTF waited until the very last minute to issue a press release. But issuing a press release even so is awfully minimal.

What we need are national gay organizations to assign staff and create an international desk in each of their groups to monitor whats going on in the countries where gays are being persecuted and then to organize around those questions with public events and meetings and demonstrations. The last opportunity to do that was July 19th. At the initiative of the Paris-based International Committee for the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the militant British gay rights group OutRage, the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization, and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, there was a call for a world-wide International Day of Protest Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran. The date of July 19 was chosen to commemorate the public hanging of two teenage gay boys in the Iranian city of Mashad on that day last year.

There were demonstrations in 29 cities all over the world on July 19 in solidarity with persecuted gay and lesbian and transgender Iranians including in Mexico City and Moscow, in Vienna and Amsterdam, in Bogota and in Warsaw, and in nine US cities. But the US demonstrations were organized entirely without any help from either of the two principal national gay groups, HRC and NGLTF. In some places, the vigils and demonstrations were organized at the initiative of local gay newspapers the Seattle Gay News, New York Citys Gay City News, Fort Lauderdales Gay News; in other places, by ad hoc local committees. But our national gay institutions were totally absent from this, the most important world-wide demonstration of solidarity with persecuted gay Iranians.

And thats just one action in what has been a sea of silence on the part of our US gay organizations in sharp contrast to what goes on in Europe. Gay organizations throughout western Europe have been very active, for example, on the Iran issue and in solidarity with Poland. At the gay pride march in Warsaw, which they initially tried to ban and which was threatened with violence by the League of Polish Families, a party that is in Polands ruling government coalition, west European gay organizations responded by sending large delegations to march in the Warsaw Pride Parade. Germany alone sent over 1,000 people. There were more than 20 European members of the European Parliament from Western European countries who went to Warsaw to march in the gay pride parade in solidarity with the Polish gays against the persecution being inflicted on them by the Kaczynski government. We in the US are lagging behind the European gay movements in engaging with these very urgent and in some cases life and death issues of gay oppression in other countries. We need to break this cycle of isolationism and engage with those issues. /
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