The European Diversity Awards have published their nominees shortlist. The award ceremony will take place on 22 September on the Savoy Hotel in London.
The list is extensive, and I can’t comment on every single nominee. But I was very surprised by two names on that list.
First Julie Bindel, she is a journalist and feminist activist, she is also lesbian. However, she has been notorious on her transphobic views. In 2004 she wrote an infamous article on which she questioned whether a sex change would make someone a woman or simply a man without a penis. When in 2008 she was nominated to the Stonewall diversity awards, a social media campaign was held protesting about that, and she wrote a rant-article in The Guardian, saying that she didn’t want to be included on the LGBT “gang” any more, and also ridiculing Queers as people with “odd” sexual habits, even when the term has being reclaim by the LGBT community as an umbrella term for non-heterosexual practices.
She stood by her view later on, writing for StandPoint an article attacking transexuals in 2009, in a patronizing style that could be compared to Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips, who has being nominated as bigot of the year by Stonewall. They are the type of articles that attack minorities, but are presented as a defence on rightful points of views, victimizing themselves as “persecuted by lobbies” (trans in the case of Bindel, gay in the case of Phillips) and pointing the equality voices as “left-wing propaganda and liberal agenda”.
If that wasn’t enough, then she wrote in April this year an article for StandPoint defending the homophobic behaviour of the Jon Snow pub against Jonathan Williams and James Bull, saying that public displays of affection were “unnecessary display of bad manners of people who find either find it impossible to control themselves in public, or are such exhibitionists that they take extra pleasure from canoodling in public.”
Then we have Paul Burston, the Gay columnist of Time Out London. Even when his record is not as bad as Bindel’s, lately he has being writing and supporting campaigns against homophobia in London’s East End. That alone would be alright, and a first look at some of his articles, like one that appear on March on Time Out would look sensible, if not for the fact that this campaign has being focused on blaming Muslims as solely responsible of the homophobic attacks, even when 42% of those proceeded against for the high numbers of homophobic crimes in Tower Hamlets in recent years were white, as reported by Andy Godfrey on an interesting analysis of the statistical data about hate crimes and ethnicity. It’s true that radical Muslims show a big homophobic discourse and behaviour, but self-portrait the problem as a Muslim problem is presenting a flat and single-view part of it that doesn’t help much.
Also interesting how many banks and corporations are included on the list. There’s going to be a protest against some of the EDA nominees, in case you’re interested to be there.
I’m sure both Julie and Paul are sincere in the work they have been doing on lesbian and gay rights, but unfortunately one good doesn’t erase one wrong. Speaking in favour of Lesbian an Gay rights doesn’t give you the right to throw transphobic, islamophobic or other prejudices to the public and then claim that since you have worked for those specific topics your prejudices against other minorities shall be ignored and even awards given to you.
This is becoming quite common, we have the case of Dan Savage, who has worked in the excellent campaign It gets better, but also have made public his biphobia, and also defending himself writing that he’s victim of the militant bisexuals.
Or the infamous case of David Starkey, historian, gay and atheist, who describes himself as a person who has fight for gay rights, but defends the right of Christians to discriminate against same-sex couples, and recently has made highly racist statements about the riots in England, saying that ‘The whites have become black’.
One would think that the LGBT community being a minority that has suffered from discrimination and prejudice would know better than throw prejudice and discrimination against other minorities, or even against themselves. Sadly reality is that there are many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people who end up attacking diversity, even when they think they are fighting for it.
Being Queer doesn’t automatically qualify you as a diversity champion, nor give you the right to discriminate against others. Instead of using it as an excuse and claim that they are being persecuted by “evil lobbies”, LGBT public people should make an introspective exercise and avoid that kind of behaviour. And even more, that’s not something that only the ones who write for the public should do, sadly I have encounter many people inside the LGBT community who are misogynist or heterophobics, racist or xenophobics, we all humans should know better than that, but being members of a minority should give us the sensitivity to avoid falling in the same trap that we, time and time again, are victims of.