LGBTQ+ people are not pawns in your Islamophobic crusade

Some would have LGBTQ+ people believe that Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ is good for their safety. Lee Williscroft-Ferris takes issue.


Two words (apologies if you’ve not long eaten): Milo Yiannopoulos. The poster boy of the ‘alt-right’,  a hugely misogynistic, self-loathing gay man now firmly ensconced and feeling very much at home at Breitbart. LGBTQ+ involvement in far-right politics has a lengthier history than many realise; still more would rather sweep it under the rug of forgotten history. Of course, LGBTQ+ people, just like wider society, cover the whole breadth of the political spectrum. Crass attempts to homogenise the LGBTQ+ community politically are, logically, doomed to fail.

There are, however, some issues around which LGBTQ+ people can and should unite, the most recent example being Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Muslim Ban’. Unsurprisingly, social media is abuzz with statements of support for both sides of the debate. Some users have gone a step further, calling upon LGBTQ+ people to support Trump’s draconian measures. It is, these people claim, conducive to the LGBTQ+ community’s safety to restrict entry into the USA for Muslims, the implication being that Muslims are collectively and inherently anti-LGBTQ+, representing a real and present danger to LGBTQ+ Americans.

Of course, LGBTQ+ people, just like wider society, cover the whole breadth of the political spectrum.

This is nonsensical on numerous levels. First, the assertion entirely erases the very existence of LGBTQ+ Muslims, of which there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, throughout the world. The arbitrary construction of ‘western LGBTQ+’ versus ‘Muslim anti-LGBTQ+ cishet’ is an absurdity based on the most insidious of sweeping generalisations.

The world remains a largely homophobic, biphobic and transphobic place. This is by no means unique to Muslim-majority nations. Our LGBTQ+ counterparts continue to struggle for recognition of their basic dignity and human rights in parts of Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. The litany of discrimination is well-rehearsed and expands well beyond the borders of the Muslim world.

There is a bitter irony in attempts by fascists to disingenuously play on the fears of LGBTQ+ people in an attempt to recruit them to their hideous cause. If any LGBTQ+ person seriously believes that your average white Trump supporter has any more regard for their personal dignity and safety than that of their Muslim compatriots, they are – at best – naive. Very often, we are battling a common enemy. To seek to turn us against one another is the ultimate insult. Never has an intersectional perspective mattered more than it does in this ‘post-truth’ era of ‘alternative facts’.

The arbitrary construction of ‘western LGBTQ+’ versus ‘Muslim anti-LGBTQ+ cishet’ is an absurdity based on the most insidious of sweeping generalisations.

To claim that Muslims are, by nature, anti-LGBTQ+ is not only to ignore LGBTQ+ Muslims. It also conveniently glosses over an indisputable truth; just as some Muslims will be anti-LGBTQ+, so are a great number of Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, atheists and agnostics. Bigotry has no race or religion; it is a rampant social scourge that traverses all strata of every country on the globe, without exception. 

Fundamentally, an LGBTQ+ person’s dignity and equality is never enhanced by denying the same to others. It’s a cliché but when it comes to the ongoing battle for every single human to be able to live their lives in peace and justice, we truly are stronger together. We must have one another’s backs. Trump and his cronies are no friends to our community. From Vice-President Mike Pence’s record of virulently anti-LGBTQ+ policymaking to the increasing likelihood of an executive order enabling businesses and services to shut their doors to LGBTQ+ people, the new US administration is no friend of ours.

Bigotry has no race or religion; it is a rampant social scourge that traverses all strata of every country on the globe, without exception.

It is nauseating to see fascists court LGBTQ+ people in a twisted attempt to exploit their fears – fears perpetuated by the words and deeds of your average Trump supporter – and engage them in their proxy war on Muslims. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be used as pawns in this way. ‘Naveen’, the Iraqi trans refugee, and the countless thousands like her now in limbo thanks to one populist narcissist’s determination to demonise a whole faith in the name of ‘making America great again’ are counting on us. We can’t let them down.

Follow Lee on Twitter (@calamospondylus)

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