Saturday, 5 August 2017

When others having the same safety as you becomes 'politics'

A charity asked its staff to wear a badge supporting and welcoming a marginalised group. The LGBT+ community.  Some people got really angry about this.  They said this was about forcing staff to wear a political symbol.  And nothing at all to do with being anti-LGBT.

Is it?  Imagine these...

"I'm not anti-women, but I think wearing a badge supporting women's equality isn't something that should be forced on people. That's political.  I don't do politics."

"I'm not racist, but I think wearing asking people to wear a badge supporting (say) Black equality is wrong."

"I'm not ableist, but I wouldn't wear a badge saying disabled people should have equal rights.  That's political, and I shouldn't be asked to support other people's politics".

"I wouldn't wear a badge saying children's rights needs to be better looked after.  We all know what sort of people were made to wear badges during the war.  So if you ask me to wear that badge, well, you're no better than Hitler, eh?"

But yesterday, across social media, we had a good number of people saying, (paraphrased)

"I think asking staff working at a LGBT celebration event to wear a rainbow badge is wrong.  I'm not homophobic, but I think wearing a badge supporting LGBT equality is a political act.  It shouldn't be forced on people.  The charity is behaving like Hitler".

The hate online became breathtaking.  My social media filled with hate for LGBTQ people, from some.  I do mean hate.  So bad that I was left shaking.

The lives of LGBT+ people are not some abstract political thing.  So many experience extremes of hate and violence.  So many are misunderstood and misportrayed.  My LGBT+ friends are such lovely people.  Kind, caring, thoughtful, supportive.  Leading sensible, ordinary lives with their wives, husbands or partner.  Contributing to charities, churches, workplaces across the country in wonderful ways.

For me, as part of that community, and someone who works for equality of humanity for all people, it was a scary thing.  A third of autistic people are also LGBT+  Double marginalisation, often double hatred and 'othering'.  For me, the question of equality isn't political.  It's about whether I am safe. Whether I can access a place without being terrified.

Women having the right to vote was said at the time to be a 'political' act.  Should it not have been supported?

Black people no longer being sold in slave markets was said at the time to be a 'political' act.  Should it not have had public support?

The equality, safety and wellbeing of other people isn't politics.   It's being human.  It's about loving one another.  It's about sharing life together.  It's about learning from one another, and learning not to fear difference.   It's about saying, "I'm not threatened by you having the same right to safety and friendship as me."

There may be good reasons for not wearing a badge.  Reasons unconnected with hate or fear for that group.  Pretending human beings are just 'politics' shouldn't be one of those reasons.

I am keeping it all in prayers.