Recently Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to launch LGBT History Month.
In a barnstorming speech he discussed his history of standing up against LGBT persecution and how, though things have improved, we should never be too relaxed when it comes to fighting for our rights. Then, he ended his speech with this:
“Our defence of you is a defence of all of humanity and the right of people to practise the life they want to practise, rather than be criminalised, brutalised and murdered, simply because they chose to be gay, they chose to be lesbian, they were LGBT in any form.”
What followed was immediate anger from LGBT people on the left and on the right. The use of the terms “practise” and “chose” is something that can be quite inflammatory because that sort of language is often used by anti-LGBT people who seek to harm us via correction or conversion therapy as well as being the go-to phrase for bigots everywhere. So surely this means “homophobic” Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn must resign immediately?
No. Look, what he said was wrong. I am absolutely sick of seeing it being explained away as Corbyn ‘mis-spoke’ because he had his speech in front of him. He would of practised that speech, ran through it with his team and they would’ve all had input on it. He’s a politician, a smart man who knows the importance of words. This sort of language has a detrimental effect and, as Jeremy has realised, cannot be unsaid.
I am not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn. I think he has destroyed the Party. However, this is a man who has consistently and unrepentantly voted in favour of rights and freedoms for LGBT people. He has supported everything from same-sex marriage to same-sex adoption. He continues to argue for the rest of the UK to get in line. He is not a homophobic man and it would be unfair to accuse him of being so.
What he and his supporters are, however, are hypocrites. This is a man who has openly supported regimes in which LGBT people were persecuted. When he died in 2016, Mr Corbyn referred to Cuban despot Fidel Castro as a ‘champion of social justice’. Castro once referred to being LGBT as a ‘deviation incompatible with the revolution’. Castro bragged of his genius when setting up cruel work camps where many gay men, without so much as a trial, were sent with little food or water to work camps. They received telegrams telling them they’d been called up for service, only to be rounded up with other men like them and captured. How is that social justice, Mr Corbyn?
In his speech which launched the aptly named ‘choicegate’, Mr Corbyn denounced the UK strengthening any relationship with other countries, particularly via trade deals, where the Government in that country were anti-LGBT. It was a thinly veiled and unsubtle reference to Theresa May’s recent visit to the US. Yet, Mr Corbyn was set to travel to Turkey in a pre-Brexit referendum speech where he was set to demand that Turkey join the EU. This visit and speech was scrapped in fears that it would give the Leave campaign more ammunition. Turkey is another country with a spotty LGBT history as its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, last year lambasted the Western world for prioritising gay rights and animal rights over the lives of Syrian refugees.
Mr Erdogan said,
“Shame on those who in the West divert their sensitivity to the so-called freedoms, rights, and law shown in the debate over gay marriage away from Syrian women, children, and innocents in need of aid. Shame on those who divert their sensitivities to the living space of the whales in the seas, seals, [and] turtles away from the right to life of 23 million Syrians. Shame on those who put their security, welfare [and] comforts ahead of other people’s struggle to survive.”
LGBT rights and animal rights being treated as one of the same. Same-sex marriage considered a ‘comfort’. Yet Corbyn wanted them to join the EU?
Jeremy Corbyn is not a homophobe. Choicegate is a complete storm in a teacup without measured debate. I do not believe he ‘misspoke’ but simply just didn’t consider the power of the language he was using. He is absolutely an ally and the LGBT community on both the left and the right would be wrong in attacking him as being anti-LGBT.
Yet, my biggest gripe is that Mr Corbyn and his supporters are openly lambasting Theresa May’s relationship with Trump whilst they sit back and allow Mr Corbyn to praise people who have committed heinous crimes against their LGBT population. Trump recently reaffirmed commitment to President Obama’s 2014 Executive Order to protect LGBT rights in the work place and then swiftly leaked a proposed Religious Freedom Executive Order which allows LGBT people to be discriminated against by businesses and other entities based on their sexuality. Mr Corbyn would be absolutely right to say that, if the US Government does proceed to introduce anti-LGBT executive orders and laws, that the UK must strongly consider our relationship. But, in the meantime, he must also remember the old adage that one should get their own house in order before telling others what to do with theirs.
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Writer. Pop culture & Politics obsessive with a prominent forehead.