Why does the far right get away with weaponising LGBTQ+ people?

UKIP’s election manifesto is the latest example of the far right using queer people to push its own agenda. Louise McCudden asks how they keep getting away with it.


UKIP’s General Election manifesto was published this week, and, unlike their previous manifestos it actually includes a mention of queer people. But don’t get excited because, UKIP being UKIP, the party is only using queer people to push their own nasty ends. UKIP has said that anyone who “considers gay people second-class citizens” should be denied entry to the country.

It’s not only UKIP. Far right commentators and politicians across Europe and America, from Douglas Murray to Marine Le Pen, keep weaponising queer people to make white nationalism seem more palatable. It’s obvious what they’re doing, and yet, they keep getting away with it. How?

Paul Nuttall believes he’s found an excellent ‘gotcha!’ to confuse everyone by pitching what he imagines to be two separate groups – migrants and queer people – against each other. He’s not alone. For a long time now there has been a media narrative about the supposed contradiction of supporting queer people while not hating immigrants in general and Muslims in particular. Even when the message is ostensibly a reasonable one, it tends to be along the lines of: “Aren’t we, the British, the objective liberal arbitrators of decency, so uniquely wonderful in this country for generously allowing both these two totally separate groups to exist?” This attitude from people who think they’re on our side feeds the same underlying narrative that allows people like Nuttall, Le Pen, Geert Wilders, and the infamous professional troll who I won’t bother naming, to get away with their more overt racist mess.

Even if the party’s motivations weren’t transparent as hell, the hypocrisy alone ought to make most people roll their eyes at UKIP’s new-founded concern for us; all you have to do is look at how they’ve handled their own members with homophobic views. If they’re that bothered, they should probably start by paying back any money they received from donor and Greek tycoon Demetri Marchessin, who, being both foreign and homophobic is presumably exactly the sort of person they believe to be completely incompatible with British values. Right?

For a long time now there has been a media narrative about the supposed contradiction of supporting queer people while not hating immigrants in general and Muslims in particular.

And that’s only looking at the outspoken LGBTQ+phobes among us here in Britain. You don’t have to be as unpleasant as Roger Helmer or Godfrey Bloom to quietly hold a view that queer people are ‘second-class citizens’. In fact, it’s pretty common for queer Brits to find ourselves surrounded with perfectly nice people who nevertheless feel in a very intangible way that heterosexuality is simply better and queer people, while not deserving imprisonment or beatings, are definitely less than they are; a sort of pitiable psychological curiosity. It’s wrong to lock people up for being LGBTQ+ because they can’t help it, they say, kindly.

UKIP’s own hypocrisy over queer rights is like a microcosm for our wider hypocrisy as a society. We can see it, clear as day, when it comes from them, because most people are familiar with the idea that UKIP is institutionally bigoted and dishonest. But when, say, LGBTQ+ asylum seekers die because the Home Office doesn’t think they’re queer enough to be in danger, when the Home Office goes on about the superiority of ‘British values’ on a Monday then deports queer people to Albania or Afghanistan or Uganda on a Tuesday, too many people see it as reasonable and consistent.

For a long time now there has been a media narrative about the supposed contradiction of supporting queer people while not hating immigrants in general and Muslims in particular.

Misogyny and sexual assault is used this way too. Journalists like Allison Pearson at The Daily Telegraph can be apoplectic with rage on behalf of the victims in the Rochdale child sexual abuse case, yet can happily write articles attacking the woman Ched Evans was convicted of raping, minimising his actions. Former Labour MP Simon Danczuk (now suspended) can be in such a fury over the Rochdale case he can barely see straight before we find out that he himself has been in trouble for harassing underage girls, and, recently, has been accused of rape. And actually, this apparent double standard is sort of consistent within its own logic. If women are objects, or property, then it follows that ‘them’ raping ‘our’ women is much more serious than violence against women by good old traditional white men.

UKIP’s own hypocrisy over queer rights is like a microcosm for our wider hypocrisy as a society.

It may appear hypocritical, contradictory, or even amusing to some at first glance that white supremacy can associate itself so boldly with queer rights, but for several centuries, we have been linking ‘liberal values’ in the social sense to economic ‘liberalism,’ using the fantasy of superior British values as a justification for the way we have treated others. We were celebrating superior British liberalism all the way through the slave trade and the British Empire. In fact it’s one of the oldest tricks in the racism handbook.

David Cameron was not lying when he told the Conservative party conference: “I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.” As long as we let our movement be taken and owned by centre-right liberalism, we shouldn’t be surprised that it can also be used as a stick to beat migrants with. UKIP has made the nasty underlying logic more explicit than other parties may have done, but this policy is, in fact, a perfectly logical conclusion to the narrative that many in our community have long been toasting with pride.

Follow Louise on Twitter (@LouMcCudden)

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