The LGBT community is under attack, and nobody cares

On Friday, the German Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage throughout the country. What is now being celebrated as a continuation of Angela Merkel´s wonderfully progressive term as Chancellor (these days an open-door policy, suicidal multiculturalism and apologism for acts of mass rape being the trifactor of euro-liberalism) did not begin in earnest. Mrs. Merkel herself voted against the proposed bill. The world´s media were quick to criticise the iron lady of unicorn multiculturalism and the twitter feeds of bien-pensants the world over were alive with vitriolic hatred for their former queen.

The bill was passed by a majority of 396 votes to 226. Within days, rage has subsided and leading papers such as the Guardian, Huffington Post, and the Independent have returned to worshiping at the altar of Frau Merkel. The collective amnesia of those at the forefront of the struggle for gay rights is not new. Jeremy Corbyn has been leader of the UK Labour party since 2015. He enjoys the open endorsement of the Guardian, the Independent, many high-profile campaigners of gay rights, and gay and lesbian politicians. A recent Yougov survey showed that Corbyn’s biggest support base are British 18-24 year olds, by and large the demographic most in favour of legalising gay marriage. Sadly, the massive support Jeremy Corbyn receives from these groups is completely at odds with his chequered history of cosying up to murderous homophobes.

Much is said about the Labour leader´s former associations with the IRA. His stance being that he sought to promote an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland. His detractors maintain that he and his cohorts, among them Diane Abbot, were less in favour of a peaceful resolution and more in favour of an IRA victory. For the purpose of this article, I do not wish to chide the virtues of a man who supported an organisation which tortured and executed men in front of their families, or who blew up Spanish au pairs and pregnant women in Omagh. I fear no amount of empirical evidence showing Mr. Corbyn´s friendship with the IRA will dissuade middle-class university students, radicalised by anti-western rhetoric but not yet coarsened by the labour market, from supporting him.

Among Mr. Corbyn´s other close allies are Hezbollah: the Lebanese militia and Jew murdering evangelists, Hamas: the de facto leaders of the Gaza Strip who are quite fond of shelling Israeli elementary schools, and finally the Islamic Republic of Iran: a theocracy dedicated to denying the first Holocaust while frequently advertising its gleeful preparation for the next one. Granted, Corbyn´s support for the ‘anti-Imperialist´ IRA endear him to the distorted world-view of many Corbynistas, however the inconsistency of modern leftist ideology is most striking in their acceptance of his open support for Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran.

As expected, the somewhat misguided decision by Theresa May to enter a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party has stoked the ire of Jeremy Corbyn´s most vocal supporters. Many individuals from Britain´s media, political establishment and entertainment industry have decried the Conservative´s alliance with such a socially backward group. They have in particular pointed to the stone-age views of some DUP members regarding Northern Ireland´s gay community. Iain Paisley Jnr, son of Dr. Iain Paisley, has spoken about how homosexuality is immoral, offensive and obnoxious, the party´s former health minister has made preposterous claims about children raised by same-sex parents, and leader Arlene Foster has expressed her personal distaste for the idea of gay marriage. Each one of these views is at odds with my own and those of most citizens in Ireland and Britain. Northern Ireland is an extremely regressive environment for sexual minorities; I venture to say that it is the least desirable place to live for gay people in the United Kingdom.

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Marchers in the 23rd annual Belfast Pride Parade, 2013. Credit: Belfast Telegraph

That having been said, Belfast frequently hosts pride events, such as last week for International Pride Week. There is a significant lobby in favour of legalising gay marriage in Northern Ireland, and the more extreme elements of the DUP are regularly subjected to ridicule by the Northern Irish press. Indeed, Mr. Paisley was forced to retract his statement.

Compare this to the plight of gays under the jurisdiction of Jeremy Corbyn´s friends in Lebanon, Gaza and Iran.

As well as an open desire to drive Israeli men, women and children into the Dead Sea, Hezbollah and Hamas have also devoted considerable energy to eradicating homosexuality from Lebanon and Gaza. Last week a Gay Pride festival in Beirut had to be cancelled because of threats of violence from Hezbollah. The leader of the so-called `Party of God´, Hasan Nasrallah, has claimed that homosexual relations defy logic, human nature and the human mind.

300 kilometres away, in the Gaza Strip, the plight of gays is even more dire. According to Hamas cofounder, Mahmoud Zahar:

“You in the West do not live like human beings. You accept homosexuality.

And now you criticise us?”

Sadly, Mr. Zahar´s comparison with bestiality is more than mere vitriolic bile. As the de facto leaders of the Gaza Strip, Hamas have openly admitted to executing those found “guilty” of homosexuality. Mahmoud Ishtiwi, a commander of Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas, received three bullets to the chest in February 2016 for having committed what Hamas describe as ´moral turpitude´.

The link between Mr. Corbyn and Hamas and Hezbollah is as evident as their genocidal hatred towards gays. In 2009, Corbyn requested that Hamas and Hezbollah be removed from the British Home Secretary´s list of proscribed terrorist organisations. At a parliamentary meeting of the Labour Party in 2009 he described both groups as his friends who he intended to invite to speak at Westminster. In his own words, because of Israeli restrictions on Hamas members, “only friends from Hezbollah” would attend. Far from being an off-the-cuff remark in search of a more neutral term, Corbyn then went on to qualify his statement by saying that these gay murdering extremists are dedicated to “the good of the Palestinian people” and to bringing about “long term peace and social justice” in Palestine and Lebanon. Later, in 2012, despite his apparent yearning for peace in the Middle-East, Corbyn seemed unperturbed by the plethora of AK-47 emblazoned Hezbollah flags surrounding him when he spoke at the Al Quds festival in London.

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The execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Credit: Huffington Post

In Iran, the salacious torture of homosexuals may have reached its zenith. By law, homosexuality is punishable by death. Mass arrests for ´sodomy´ are commonplace, such as last April where 30 teenagers were rounded up by the much-feared Basij militia. Those found guilty may confess for the supposed crime of being gay, for which they are granted reprieve in the form of 100 lashes to the bare back with a leather whip, however those who refuse to repent are executed.  Far from a sleeping law, Iran has proven how dedicated it is to eradicating homosexuality. Under Mahmoud Ahmadenajad, two teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari (16) and Ayaz Marhoni (18), were publicly hanged in Khorasan for engaging in ´consensual sex´. Recent events have shown that even the so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani is ruthless in his prosecution of sexual minorities; in July of 2016, Hassan Afshar (19) was executed in Markazi. At this moment, Alireza Tajiki (19) awaits his own hanging for homosexual acts despite being granted a stay of execution through the tireless campaigning of Amnesty International. Accurate statistics have been difficult to obtain from the reclusive theocracy, however a 2008 British Wikileaks dispatch claimed that, between 1979 and 2008, Iran executed 4,000 to 6,000 gays and lesbians.

Before becoming Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn received payment of up to £20,000 from Press TV, the media arm of the Iranian government, for hosting and appearing as a repeat guest on Yvonne Ridley’s show. In 2016, in a televised interview with Pink News, Corbyn laughably justified his appearances as an attempt to highlight the plight of gays in Iran. In an article by Business Insider, Adam Payne recorded that in the archived footage of Corbyn’s appearances on Press TV, he never once brought up the issue of gay rights. In 2014, he spoke at a commemorative event in honour of the butcher, Grand Ayotollah Khomeini, and gave a speech in which he extolled the values of the Islamic Republic. On what would surely be an ideal platform for any civil libertarian to shed light on the plight of gays in Iran, instead Corbyn chose to condemn the “moral authority” of Western Powers.

Either through indifference or political opportunism, Corbyn´s links with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran escape scrutiny by Britain´s enlightened defenders of gay rights.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones has repeatedly sought to bring to the public´s attention the atrocious record of the DUP on gay rights. To his credit, Owen has never faltered in his tireless campaign to end the marginalisation of NI´s gay community. This is a subject he has written about since 2015, long before the spectre of Northern Irish unionism entered the halls of British power. Owen Jones also happens to be one of Jeremy Corbyn´s biggest cheerleaders. His columns in several publications have praised the Labour leader, and his firebrand attacks against Theresa May have earned him accusations of doxing. Although his views on Corbyn´s internal policies are admirable, even if far from my own, his embrace of “Newer” Labour unfortunately nullifies his championing of gay rights. How high Corbyn´s friends in the Iranian mullocracy hang gays for crimes against Islam has yet to receive any inches in Jones´ column.

Until now, former London Mayoral candidate and Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, had a truly unblemished record on this issue. In February 2012, Lammy took the principled yet politically unwise move of cutting ties with CARE, a Christian advocacy group, for their stance against gay marriage. He enjoys a strong relationship with Britain´s Jewish community, being one of the only Labour MPs to publicly condemn Corbyn´s support for Hamas. Given that Lammy shows an understanding of the situation in both NI and the Palestinian territories, his comments about the DUP are misleading. Indeed, he was correct when he recently said that their views are completely unacceptable, however why, when repeatedly given a platform to do so, would he not express the same indignation for the imprisonment, torture and summary execution of gays committed by Corbyn´s friends in Hezbollah or Iran.

Frankie Boyle is one of the most successful British comedians of recent years. He identifies with the left of the political spectrum, and has courted controversy over his routine which have gone as far as to mock the intellectually disabled. Hardly the ideal moral arbiter of today´s political discourse, he has at least been consistent in his defence of gay rights. In what can only be described as a comprehensive takedown, Boyle engaged in a twitter spat with singer James Arthur over his homophobic lyrics. The condemnation was so severe that the Xfactor winner left the platform. Possibly the finest one liners from any comedian covering the UK general election came from Boyle when he compared the stance of former Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron, on homosexuality to being like that of a “trendy vicar”. Immediately after the election result, Boyle included a piece about the DUP´s position on homosexuality in his weekly show New World Order, parodying the party´s views as being like that of a shrieking religious fanatic who believes homosexuality is an act of sodomy. Sadly, however, Boyle exhibits the same collective amnesia as Owen Jones and David Lammy. In his frequent columns for the Guardian, Boyle has praised Corbyn as a man of principle and defended his associations with terror groups as part of a policy of speaking with military enemies. He believes that the election of Jeremy Corbyn, unlikely as that may be, would represent a highpoint for modern Britain. Despite his sometimes libellous attacks on bigotry in the UK, his hours of comedy material or his opinion pieces in the Guardian have yet to decry Jeremy Corbyn´s associations with despicable homophobes.

The positions taken by Corbyn supporters in defence of LGBT rights are admirable and they should be promoted. However, in the struggle for a civil society in which all sexual minorities may live freely, it is vital to look beyond the tribalism of party politics. Jeremy Corbyn has negated his own human decency by allying himself with the most vile, racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisations on the planet. Yet he masquerades at music festivals and civic receptions as the poster boy of moral libertarianism. The failure of those mentioned above and their employers and supporters to reprimand Jeremy Corbyn on this issue simply facilitates the persecution of gays worldwide.

Granted the individuals mentioned here and I do not align on issues such as foreign policy, allocation of state funding, and the EU. However, I am confident that David Lammy, Owen Jones, Frankie Boyle and I would agree that there can be no concessions made to homophobia. Be it in Belfast or Tehran, anti-gay bigotry must be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Ronan Deasy

@ronandeasy

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