This perfectly exposes the fundamental problem of separating crimes, particularly violent crimes, by various traits shared by victims and by their presumed causes. Much of the rhetoric aggressively voiced by many gay activists (and indeed wider) could be (and is) portrayed as ‘anti-Catholic’. If you have a story like this, one ‘side’ will use it to bash the other. ‘Look! Look what your words lead to!’ And the other ‘side’ will take a story like this and say the same thing. It becomes a matter of various interest groups competing to be the most victimised and most able to spin a suitable narrative from that. The violence becomes lost in this – any common empathy and, most importantly, common response to it becomes all but impossible.

It also dehumanises the victims who increasingly cease to be seen as human beings and are instead reduced to an abstract ‘difference’: a ‘gay’, a ‘Catholic’. You could see this in the instant response to the murder of Stuart Walker . He immediately became ‘a gay man’ who had been murdered because of his sexuality. As that link shows, this interpretation spread worldwide very quickly (in a way in which it would not have had Stuart not been gay – I don’t imagine very many people outside of Scotland are aware of the case of Zoe Nelson, for example). Then, over the course of the evening, some possible ‘explanations’ (not justifications, of course) for the murder came out (some of them quite unsavory). As quickly as he had become ‘a gay’ martyr, Stuart was dropped. The column which Patrick Strudwick (yes, him again) had written within 24 hours of the discovery of Stuart’s body never appeared, and anyone familiar with his work will know why – it would have fixated on Stuart’s sexuality and used it to push a narrative of increasing ‘hate crimes’ against gay people. Now, Stuart is of no use and I doubt most of the people who expressed outrage at his death are even aware that someone was caught and charged with it (the Pink Paper did report Stuart’s funeral last week but they do tend to report on anything that happens to anyone gay, anywhere, ever).

I had a discussion about ‘hate crimes’ this year with a transexual woman. She agreed that they were a ridiculous and divisive concept. Yet she still wanted violence against transexuals to be classed as a ‘hate crime’ in legislation. Her (not unreasonable) reasoning was that, since hate crime legislation wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, her ‘community’ deserved that special recognition and protection too. In the frequently depressing discussion that recently sprung up about online abuse against females, I repeatedly saw people arguing that making this abuse a ‘hate crime’ was the way to deal with it. Where does it end and how many differences do we have to highlight before we step back and say ‘hold on…all murder (for example) is hateful and wrong, no matter who the victim is. No murder is ‘better’ than another. No murder is intrinsically more ‘tragic’ than another.’ That to me is real equality – expecting that I’ll be treated the same as anyone else, even if something dreadful happens to me. I don’t want to be reduced to my ‘difference’, thank you very much.

Most Scottish religious hate crimes ‘target Catholics’

Walker’s death may not be the result of being gay. Yet even if the hotel manager was not killed from a gay hate crime, he remains the victim of a society whose crime caused many to jump immediately to Matthew Shepard, another openly gay young man found brutally beaten and tied to a fence in a small town in Wyoming. Left to die because of who he was, by those who refused to understand or to accept it.

“This may not have anything to do with the victim being gay…but even if it doesn’t, it DOES.” The quite amazing paragraph above sums up many responses to this horrible attack very neatly. The liberal types who are so quick to focus on sexuality don’t seem to realise that this is the complete antithesis of ‘equality’.

Stuart Walker’s Brutal Murder in Cumnock: Will Gay Hate Crimes Ever End?

I ‘like’ how this piece rushes over the suggestion that many LGBT people feel less and less that they can only socialise in ‘gay’ venues, as if it’s simply too absurd to countenance. In both Glasgow and London, I’ve noticed a hardcore ‘gay social scene’ full of people who are deeply conservative in their habits: they would tend to avoid ‘straight’ places, certainly, but also gay venues which are remotely outside of the designated ‘gay scene’. It’s for this reason (I would argue) that the venues on and immediately around Old Compton Street seem to be in no danger of closing while those even 5 minutes’ walk away are closing. Then there are issues with the dominance of gay males on the scene, immediately putting somewhere like First Out at a disadvantage.

I wouldn’t celebrate a place that people have loved going out of business but I do find this article a tad hysterical. The idea that people are at greater risk of being ‘discriminated against, bullied, attacked and murdered’ if a few gay venues go under is obviously nonsense. It also suggests that gay people themselves engage in none of those activities, which is again obviously nonsense. There are ‘straight’ bars where I feel hugely comfortable and gay ones which I wouldn’t set foot in. The difference between a bar where you may be called an unpleasant name and one where people are laid back is not one of sexuality.

Don’t let the gay club scene fall silent

Response to ‘June 7, 2011 Anti-Gay Hate Crime Up 21% in Tower Hamlets”

This response was posted by a Kevin O’Neil on the Homintern ‘press release’ re: homophobia in Tower Hamlets, which I wrote about yesterday. It was deleted within 30 minutes. I think this underlines that these people really have an insidious agenda and zero interest in any honest discussion of the issues involved. Pathetic.

Thank you for posting the link to your data source for the 21% claim. A look round the Met’s crime figures website has proved most illuminating and allows one to put your headline into a context.
A 21% increase in homophobic crime in Tower Hamlets initially sounds dramatic but becomes less so when compared with other London Boroughs. Westminster, Lambeth both 26%, Brent 29%, Islington 60%, Croydon, Sutton 62%, Enfield 75%, Havering, Kingston-upon-Thames 83% and Harrow a wapping 125%.

Of course these are self-reflexive percentages only relating this years figures with last years within Borough boundaries. What about actual numbers of reported homophobic crime? A 21% rise in Tower Hamlets has lead to a total of 81 cases in the last year, an additional 14 cases. That is less than the 88 cases in Islington in the previous year BEFORE a 60% increase to 131 cases. It equals the 82 cases in Camden achieved after a 13% reduction. It is significantly less than Westminster’s 148 cases and Lambeth’s 132.

One also has to ask what are the nature of these homophobic crimes? In Tower Hamlets the 81 incidents, 14 more than last year, will include every official report made to the Police of the appearance of the stickers. We do not know how many that was (although I imagine a Freedom of Information request should be able to obtain the data). There was talk in the gay press and online blogs and forums of up to 70 appearances of these stickers. If each of those was officially reported separately we have a very different picture of only a dozen non sticker sighting related homophobic crimes. Conversely, if none were officially reported we have the possibility of an East London gay community who really weren’t that upset by them. I suspect it would be something between these extremes. However, if the reporting of the stickers were stripped out of the statistics I think we would be congratulating Tower Hamlets on a reduction of homophobic hate crime.

You seem to want to lay some of the blame for these stickers at the feet of the East London Mosque and make demands of them which you acknowledge the say they are already doing. Whether the ELM is still harbouring homophobic, ranting, nut-jobs or not, it would appear from a more thoughtful analysis and contextualisation of your data that hardly anyone is listening to them anyway.

Your whole agenda of wanting to link homophobic hate crime specifically to an extremist Islamist campaign and to the ELM is a fallacious red herring and does a great disservice to the gay community. A look at the statistics for homophobic crime across the capital shows that there is a serious problem that needs addressing. You wish to focus on a blind alley and lead the gay community into a battle with an enemy that is about as influential as Monster Raving Loony Party candidate in a safe seat.

A number of the signatories here state they are journalists and media professionals. Why are you not investigating the real picture of homophobic hate crime across London? Why are you not looking at the increases and total numbers in Westminster, Lambeth, Islington, Camden. The homophobic crime cases in these Boroughs do not include people reporting offensive stickers. Conversely why are you not looking at the successes across London and finding out what they’re doing right; Greenwich, Bromley, Barnet, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham, Hammersmith & Fulham and Haringey all down by over 40%.

You talk of people living in fear in Tower Hamlets. Fear does not come directly from threat, it comes from the perception of threat. Your fallacious red herring stokes a perceived threat where very little actually exists. Shame on all the signatories for instilling fear in the hearts of the gay community of Tower Hamlets and generating more misery.

One final comment. You give the increase and numbers for homophobic crime in Tower Hamlets and state that racist and religious hate crime has remained static. But you do not give a figure for it. The number of incidents there is 352.
I note however the the Met refers to “homophobic crime” and “racist and religious HATE crime”. This would seem to support the contention towards the beginning of the piece about institutional bias in tackling hate crime. But then begs the question as to why you do not make this the focus of your demands”

This is at once hilarious and really, really pathetic. It’s basically a regurgitation of  Johann Hari’s shit piece which I wrote about here:

http://howupsetting.tumblr.com/post/3503560578/can-we-talk-about-muslim-homophobia-now

with some added legalese taken from a Rainbow Hamlets press release on the same subject (which you can read here:

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/06/01/%E2%80%9Crainbow-hamlets-says-lgbt-people-in-tower-hamlets-have-been-let-down-by-the-criminal-justice-system-%E2%80%9D/ )

There seems to be some war going on between various parties in the East End ‘gay community representative’ circle. For the record, leaving aside the Muslim aspect, I don’t really agree with either on this point. I think ‘hate crime’ legislation is always going to be messy because the very concept is messy. Messy and extremely unhelpful. I don’t think we need to beef up ‘gay’ hate crime legislation, I think we need to get rid of it all.

Anyway, let’s look at some choice sections of this press release:

  • The stickers (one sixth-A4 size) have been seen in several streets in Shoreditch, Canary Wharf and Hackney as well

Which is interesting, because only one of these areas falls entirely within Tower Hamlets. The vast majority of Shoreditch falls under Hackney Borough (as does Hackney, obviously). Homophobic crime has decreased in Hackney. And before anyone tells you that this means nothing because it’s a huge figure nonetheless, the 47 homophobic crimes the MET reports to April 2011 in Hackney compares with 317 Racist and Religious hate crimes, 130 rapes and 5900 cases of ‘violence against the person’.

  • People are upset that a coordinated, prolonged, multi-city attempt to define parts of the UK as Gay-Free Zones was treated as no more than mildly disorderly conduct

If this was ‘coordinated’ then the wicked people behind the conspiracy are truly the most inept planners…ever. Seriously, I could have done better. Some really shit stickers appeared in a few places and almost no-one knew they existed, and most people who knew they existed carried on their lives without giving it another thought. These shit stickers have been whipped up into some massive boogie man by people with an agenda.

  • There is a strong feeling that homophobia is being covered up, or ignored, in order not to ‘endanger community relations’

A ‘strong feeling’ from whom, exactly?! The 12 signatories of this release, several of whom have been deliberately exploiting this issue in order to demonise Muslims in East London for several months now? The guy was prosecuted for putting up offensive stickers. Statements from local gay people were read out in court. The judge said that he set out to “offend and distress. Worst. Cover-up. Ever.

  •  A comment on PinkNews says it all…

You know you’re in trouble when you resort to quoting comments from the shower of shite that is Pink News, with a bunch of commentors who wank each other into a frenzy with the idea that they are the Jews in Nazi Germany being ignored by ‘PC do-gooders’.

  • Such a light penalty would be unthinkable if we were considering groups operating across UK to create Jew-free, Black-free, Muslim-free or Christian-free zones.

It’s identity politics bingo! Let’s list a bunch of other minorities whom the NASTY PC DO-GOODERS are afraid of offending! Let’s ignore the fact that groups who do want such things frequently hold marches and protests with either no charges arising, or charges relating to public orderoffences after trouble kicks off. The idea that there is some conspiracy where racists, Islamaphobes and anti-religious bigots are being charged with hate crimes galore while homophobes run rampant is, quite frankly, risible. Laughter-inducingly so.

  • Human rights are for everyone or they are not at all

Except, presumably, when it’s some stupid kid who’s stuck up a few really shit stickers. Then we should lose all sense of perspective and justice and demand his head on a plate.

  • The “Gay-Free Zone” campaign was deliberately committed to fill gay people with fear in an area where they have already have been subject to vicious assaults and intimidation by gangs and ideologues for years

The FIRST time I have seen any of these people mention ‘gangs’, albeit not in an acknowledgment that the incidents (which overwhelmingly seem to occur in Shoreditch) happen in places with huge gang problems and all of the violence that comes from that. When I pointed out to someone that there had been stabbings just metres from the horrible attack on Oliver Hemsley which no gay person seemed to care about, I was told that they had ‘nothing to do with gay people’. Breathtaking. Apparently it’s fair enough if you’re stabbed as long as you’re not called a ‘poof’ while it happens. Then it’s time to MOBILISE. Stupid, blinkered and useless.

    • While it is often claimed that homophobic hate crime is ‘falling’ in Tower Hamlets, the most recent statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Service show that homophobic hate crime is UP in Tower Hamlets by 21% over last annual reporting period, from 67 attacks to 81; during the same period, religious/racial hate crime remained flat

This has already been tackled by several people (http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/2/28/are-muslims-responsible-for-a-huge-rise-in-homophobic-attack.html and http://aethelreadtheunread.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/can-we-talk-about-johann-haris-shoddy-journalism-now/ to mention two ). It’s worth re-iterating that homophobic crime has actually fallen in Hackney. It’s also fallen in Waltham Forest, another heavily Muslim area, while in Newham there have been 2 more incidents than last year. Westminster, Islington and Enfield (to name 3 boroughs which don’t exactly spring to mind when you think ‘Muslim’) have had increases between 26 and 75%.

As for the quite horrible effort to play homophobic crimes against religious/racial crimes – in Tower Hamlets the rolling 12-month figure for homophobic crime is currently 81 incidents. For religious/racial crime, it’s currently 352. Hardly worthy of the ‘everything’s fine there’ dismissive tone it receives.

  • Many gay people have been forced out of the borough, unable to cope with the harassment.

Seriously – WHAT?! A repeat of Johann Hari’s assertion in the pathetic ‘correction’ to his original article. Any evidence for this? Anyone? Anything at all? I suspect it would be along the lines of ‘my mate Bob left’. PATHETIC!

    • A particularly vicious attack – ignored by national media – occurred in late August 2008, when a 21 year-old art student, Oliver Hemsley, was butchered just after leaving the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Road in Shoreditch

Leaving aside the hysterical language, it was so ‘ignored by national media’ that the first page of google results for Oliver’s name brings up articles from the BBC, Daily Mail, The Independent and Sky News reporting it.

    •  15 year old, Nasrul Islam, was the only gang member to be brought to justice. Incredibly, the police released him on bail – only for him to mug a 12 year-old girl just days later.

Well that’s odd. Did he mug a little girl because he’s a homophobic Muslim? The judge in the case stated that ”This was an entirely motiveless, mindless attack. Its ferocity makes my blood run cold. He speaks with a degree of pride about his reputation with the boys, with the local community.” So a picture is emerging of a violent gang member in the area in question. Also of note is that the court reports tell of Oliver being attacked while en-route to an off-license, and not on his way to the nearby gay bar as these people like to report. When I noted the inconsistencies in the story with the ‘gay man attacked deliberately for being gay’ narrative, I was told by one of the signatories of this statement that I was ‘fine’ with the stabbing of a young man. This is the mentality of these people. You are either with them or you are a sympathiser for a rampaging homophobic menace which cares only about whether you are gay or not and nothing else.

    • The East London Mosque (ELM), the main mosque in East London, was quick to distance itself from, and to condemn, the “Gay Free Zone” stickers

But we’ll gloss over this, and the Mayor and other prominent Muslims’ support and participation in a Faith Communities and Homophobia Forum in May, cos that makes things a bit more grey than we’d like. Regarding the East London Mosque, they can speak for themselves with regards to the IFE : http://www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk/uploadedImage/pdf/2010_03_15_17_14_22_ELM_dispatches_response.pdf

    • We must stop assuming that the ELM/IFE represent the larger Muslim community

What a bizarre statement. Who said they did? If anything it seems to be these people who are so keen to lump all Muslims in with the ‘extremists’ they perceive to be running rampage in East London. If the vast majority of Muslims oppose and condemn the IFE and the Mosque itself condemns homophobia, I’m failing to see the point here.

    • In addition to its IFE connections, the ELM has also hosted numerous hate preachers who have promoted the most vicious homophobia imaginable over the years. 

A criticism which Peter Tatchell acknowledged they had responded to and led to them promising not to host any such preachers in future.

    • While it is doubtful that many gaybashers are regular mosque attendees

STOP THE BUS!

    • the ELM’s preachers have created an atmosphere in which hate is socially acceptable

Even in non-Muslim areas by non-Muslims, apparently. ELM is PRETTY POWERFUL! The article then ends with a flourish of homophobic utterances from a bunch of Muslims. Even though they’ve just acknowledged that most Muslims apparently oppose extremism and gay-bashers are unlikely to frequently attend the ELM. That’s some nice logic there.

I don’t wish my tone to imply that there isn’t a problem. Homophobia and violent crime should be taken seriously and should be tackled. This is not served by trying to exploit and distort events in order to pursue your own personal agenda and pit minorities against each other. It is certainly not served by ignoring the common root causes of violent crime and acting like the attack of a gay man outside the George and Dragon is completely unrelated to the shooting of a straight man outside Jam (which used to be directly opposite). Engaging with these issues means growing up and getting past the idea that the thing which makes you a ‘minority’ is the defining characteristic of your entire being and everything you do and everything that happens to you, then demanding that everyone around act in the same way and responding with fury when they don’t.

The current path the signatories of this statement are on is going to achieve absolutely nothing.

Anti-Gay Hate Crime Up 21% in Tower Hamlets: Gay & Feminist Activists Respond to Gay Free Zone Case

OUTRAGE!

Apparently there’s ANOTHER ‘kiss-in’ at the John Snow tonight. It seems there are a lot of people willing to be mobilised against ‘homophobia’ without spending even a cursory amount of time investigating the origins of their ‘outrage’ and the actions they’re signing up to. The more I read about it, the more I am convinced that there was no homophobia in what happened (a summary explanation which I posted elsewhere is below.)

The surge in ‘Twitter outrage’ in the past year or so is incredibly bizarre. It only ever seems to reach a superficial level and rests entirely on a very narrow ‘liberal’ identity of self derived from identity politics. The ‘promised land’ seems to be a place where we can all live without offence rather than achieving any real equality (a significant, substantive equality which recognises class structures and economic power as primary, not who we have sex with.) I’m not sure if it’s pushing people to express opinions on things that they think little about or if it’s just giving a platform to people who have never tended to do this. Either way, it’s a bit dumb. I’ve said it before – for all the shouting about ‘equality’ that certain people do, their entire sense of identity would be lost forever if people *really* stopped giving a shit about people being gay.

Re: the ‘incident’ (it was in response to someone demanding further action so I’m tackling their points):

I’m afraid this is a perfect example of what I said when I wrote about people being outraged without actually bothering to check the details of what they’re outraged about! The version of events that has taken hold (a gay couple kissed and were forcibly ejected) bears little relation to what we’ve been told: – The info about the complainant is here: http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/5215/16/04/2011/man-who-sparked-john-snow-furore-claims-couple-were-fondling.aspx

Firstly, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there WAS a complainant. Previously we’d been led to believe that the landlord just took exception, not that a member of the public made a complaint. The complainant’s description of their behaviour tallies with what my friend told me. She said that most people were indeed rolling their eyes and thinking ‘get a room’, but if someone complains then clearly that places pressure on the pub to do something, right?

Secondly, and crucially, you’ll see that both the complainant *and the guy who tweeted when ejected from the pub* acknowledge that they WERE asked to tone it down, and remained in the pub for at least an hour afterwards. If this was a case of bar staff taking offence to gay people, why on earth would they not just eject them immediately?!

Thirdly, in the original story the guys involved said they ‘refused’ a request to moderate their behaviour. They said they told the person who came over to ‘turn around instead’ and ‘took little notice’ and continued to kiss ‘not in a confrontational way, just on the mouth’. That’s a bit different from the version in this story, where they stopped, stayed for an hour and then were randomly ejected.

Fourthly, again originally they described their behaviour as nothing more than a ‘peck on the lips’. One of the SUPPORTIVE witnesses described it ‘full-on snogging, but not heavy petting’.

Next – no-one ever suggested that the John Snow had contacted police or requested police remove them. The police involvement (which only seems to appear in some versions of the story) was that when they were arguing with the landlady, a man in the pub identified himself as a police officer, showed a badge and said they had to leave if she asked them to.

Some other points – I’ve no doubt similar things have happened in other Sam Smiths pubs – because similar things happen in pubs across the country. The implication that there is some Sam Smith-wide policy on gay kissing is risible and an insult to all of our intelligence. There are several Sam Smiths pubs in Soho, myself and many other gay friends regularly frequent many of them without incident. And I have seen straight people being asked to leave pubs after kissing before (not Sam Smiths ones, but I’ve never witnessed anyone being ejected from one of them that I can recall.)

Yes, I do think the people involved should know best – but a) there are so many inconsistencies that it’s impossible for any of us to know exactly what happened, least of all those now trying to destroy the pub b) I don’t think just because someone believes they’ve been discriminated against, it means they have been. If you were asked to leave a pub for kissing, of COURSE you’d be angry and indignant, whatever sexuality you are. It doesn’t mean you were asked to leave because you were gay (and indeed gay people get ejected from gay pubs.)

Lastly, yes it’s odd that no-one from the pub has made a statement, but I don’t think this can be used as some damning evidence of guilt. Because really, it snowballed so quickly that if the pub stuck to their guns, said they weren’t homophobic and had every right to eject the pair, the people who turned up to the kiss-in (and countless others) would be demanding their blood. Perhaps an apology would have satisfied everyone, perhaps not, but maybe they don’t feel the need to apologise and are being stubborn. As for Sam Smith, I imagine they feel at arms length from the situation given their heavy presence in Soho without incident and the fact that the landlord makes the rules about who comes in and who stays, not them

Can we talk about liberal bias now?

The only criticism I have seen of Johann Hari’s recent silly (dangerously so) article about ‘Muslim homophobia’ has been in blogs:

http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/2/28/are-muslims-responsible-for-a-huge-rise-in-homophobic-attack.html

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/02/can-we-finally-talk-about-johann-haris.html

Guardian journo Gary Younge tweeted that he disagreed with it, but went out of his way to also tweet that Johann Hari was an “important voice & ought to be engaged, as some have, not demonised.”

Engaging proved difficult. Johann’s response to people tweeting criticism at him has either been to ignore it completely or to, in one case, label the person responsible as ‘extremely unintelligent’ and it seems he has blocked many of the critics (including at least one of the authors above).

Some of the attacks on Johann since his article have been quite hysterical. But most that I’ve seen have been reasoned and calm. It’s raised an interesting, but quietly disturbing question about ‘liberal writers’. Johann and many other ‘left’ journalists quite regularly write indignant columns about the ignorance and stupidity of people like Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn. Whether this is helpful or productive is another question, but it’s not something that most people are going to be particularly bothered by because, on the whole, they do seem to be ignorant and stupid.

However, I have not seen a single one of these writers tackle Johann’s article. An article which has since been shown to be based on a completely incorrect assertion and which, as I argued here:

http://howupsetting.tumblr.com/post/3503560578/can-we-talk-about-muslim-homophobia-now (I wrote this before seeing the above blogs so obviously the crime figures bit is moot)

is factually selective, logically muddled and presents an at times almost incoherent argument. I have absolutely no doubt that if a right-wing columnist of a similar profile to Johann had written a factually inaccurate, inflammatory colum about Muslims that there would have been at least a couple of high-profile attacks on it. The absence of this suggests that it’s okay for a liberal writer to write provocative tosh about Muslims, because they’re on ‘our side’ and write good columns about causes close to our hearts such as UK Uncut.

We’re supposed to be better than the right-wing bastards. We’re supposed to have higher standards. Johann is a writer I have long followed and he has written some things that I have admired. His refusal to either acknowledge that his article contained inaccuracies and apologise, or to tackle the criticism head on and explain why he’s right, has greatly reduced my respect for him. People share these articles and people assume that what they’re reading is based on accurate information (the issue of people thinking about such articles critically is another one entirely). They calcify opinions and create false oppositions. They are, as I wrote earlier, deeply irresponsible.