I mean that in the American sense rather than the British – right now I’m stone cold sober and red hot pissed off. If there’s a detonation just north of London at some point in the next hour or so don’t worry – it’s my head doing a damned good impression of a hydrogen bomb. And here is why – an extract from the most recent email from the Human Rights Campaign, which was signed by Mr. Solomonese (emphasis mine – conveniently, the full text of the email is in a response to this PHB blog post):

But as the LGBT community and its allies exercise our uniquely American right to protest, I hope we will remember that our actions in the streets will set the tone for the ongoing debate about marriage equality.

Uniquely American? Uniquely American?

Does the USA suddenly have a monopoly on all forms of democratic expression? Or perhaps there’s been a coup, reverting 793 years of hard-fought social and political progress and turning my nation into a police state, and someone’s forgotten to send me a memo? Or maybe those of us unfortunate enough to live beyond America’s borders merely play at protests, while the real ones all happen inside the confines of the U-S-of-A?

The question has been asked many times over the past few weeks and months, and judging by that comment no doubt it will continue to be asked for some time to come: “What damned planet is the HRC on?”Normally I probably wouldn’t go so ballistic if it weren’t for the fact that this same email was publicising the 125+ protests being planned for cities throughout the US this Saturday – protests which are being matched by similar events in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, Osaka and Melbourne – none of which are mentioned in the email. That’s several thousand Canadian, British, Dutch, Japanese and Australian citizens who will be publicly protesting in support of LGBT Americans‘ rights. And yet the HRC claims political protesting is a uniquely American right.

Well while I can’t speak for the other countries, I do know that England in particular has a long and proud tradition of protest, from Tyler’s Rebellion in 1381, through the Peterloo Massacre, the 1887 Bloody Sunday, the Jarrow Crusade and the Battle of Orgreave to more recent protests against the Iraq war, Islamophobia, and the deportation of LGB asylum seekers to Muslim nations.

I’ve made a couple of comments over the last few days, both here on PHB and elsewhere, saying that I think the LGBT community should be taking advantage of its international nature – that we should be working together on common goals, and learning from each-other’s mistakes and successes. And now I come up against the thoughtlessness of comments like the one above, which so easily dismisses the billions of people who live in nations which, like the USA, provide their citizens the democratic right of free and peaceful protest, and which in some cases have histories of protest that stretch back to before the first European colonies in the Americas were founded.

If I were less committed to LGBT rights for all – irrespective of nationality – I would rethink my intention to go to the protest on Saturday. If I thought it was being organised by the HRC (which is the initial impression given in the email) I definitely wouldn’t be going. So I have to wonder how many other people from outside the USA, seeing that email and reacting as I have, will now not be going to a protest organised by JoinTheImpact?

How easily the HRC dismisses our democratic traditions and beliefs. How easily the HRC dismisses the support that thousands of straight and LGBT people throughout the world are intending to show for LGBT Americans on Saturday.

Yes, I would like an apology.





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