When is it right and proper to ban a group of people from participating in what has traditionally been an inclusionary and proudly non-partisan public event?
The answer, according to the organisers of the Pride in London gay pride parade, is when those innocent people just happen to be affiliated to UKIP, the pariah party among Britain’s political class.
There had been rumblings that this might happen for a few days now. When it was discovered that an LGBT delegation from UKIP planned to join the march, thousands of virtue-signalling left-wing keyboard warriors took to the internet in self-righteous fury, signing a petition to have LGBT UKIP members and other sympathetic Ukippers purged from the event.
The online petition (change.org petitions now being the preferred medium for the new middle class clerisy to purge opposing thought from the public sphere) raged:
Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, clearly does not support the values of acceptance that Pride promotes, and UKIP is an inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic political party.
UKIP’s inclusion in Pride has already caused public outcry and many have stated they would feel unhappy and unsafe to have a UKIP group included in Pride 2015’s march, being that they are from an organisation that inherently does not support the values of acceptance and inclusion that Pride promotes.
To their partial credit, the organisers did not back down immediately. But now it seems that the anti-UKIP heat became too much for the Pride in London organisers to withstand. So great is the level of hostility and opprobrium showered on Ukippers – as well as on those others perceived to be going too easy on Nigel Farage’s party – that the banning of UKIP from the parade was sadly inevitable.
This is just part of a much wider, more disturbing trend. The values that UKIP (and arguably conservatism in general) stand for – free speech, individual liberty and a non interfering state – are now considered anathema, beyond the pale, unacceptable opinions that no decent person could possibly hold.
From the Guardian’s report:
The inclusion of Ukip in the original lineup of the Pride in London march set for 27 June had been controversial.
Many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community spoke out against the involvement of the party, which has been linked to a string of allegedly homophobic controversies.
Following the creation of a petition calling for the party to be banned, Pride organisers said they had rejected Ukip’s application to take part on safety grounds. Organisers said the decision was not politically motivated.
Safety grounds? We can assume that the Pride in London organisers are not referring to a question of physical safety – Ukippers are generally not known for their love of rioting and violence, which is more than can be said for some of those who like to protest UKIP. Therefore, the “safety grounds” cited as a good reason to exclude a group of LGBT individuals from the pride march for their political beliefs can only be a concern for the supposed mental wellbeing of the other participants in the march.
Behold the new meaning of “safety”, a word which has been bastardised to mean never having to encounter disagreement, a contradictory opinion, or to have one’s world view challenged. This definition of safety infantilises the citizen, casting them as a fragile and weak individual, lacking the intellectual and moral faculties to encounter dissent and come away unscathed.
By suggesting that the presence of fellow LGBT people who also just happen to support UKIP would make others feel “unsafe”, the Pride in London petitioners are essentially declaring to the world that they are indeed fragile and weak, exalting in their victimhood and demanding active protection at all times from those in authority, be it protest organisers or the state. But worse than this, they are also proclaiming that the common bond of their shared LGBT identity is cheap, and liable to be discarded in the face of any other political disagreement.
And here’s the real problem. It’s no longer okay, in the minds of some, to agree with just a selection of their core beliefs or political ideas. It’s no longer okay to share some of the same goals, but not necessarily all of them. And it’s no longer okay for different people with different world views to come together and collaborate in the pursuit of a shared goal (like the laudable goal of achieving full equality of gay relationships before the law) lest this disrupt the erstwhile purity of the cause.
We have gradually built a society where to be considered a “good person” – one worthy enough to participate in a London gay pride parade, for example – one must not only support gay marriage, but also subscribe to a whole host of other ideas, grouped together like a basket of approved opinions or a left wing credentials checklist. Arouse the slightest suspicion of doubt as to the zealousness of all these opinions and people can quickly find themselves on the wrong end of a social media backlash, or in some cases even being totally excommunicated from public life.
Support progressive taxation and clobbering the rich? Good.
Believe that Britain should remain a member of the EU? Marvellous.
Oppose the Evil Bedroom Tax? Hell, yes!
Love the NHS? Right on, brother.
Want to see a big hike in the minimum wage? Absolutely.
But wait, what’s this? You don’t believe in totally unlimited immigration in all circumstances, without controls or limits? Well pack your bags and don’t forget your coat on the way out, you latter-day Hitler, because that 95% overlap of worldview and opinions just isn’t good enough any more. You’re clearly a danger to society, and you’re making us all feel unsafe to boot.
This kind of political puritanism is already common in America, particularly on the right, where the Tea Party surge caused forced huge numbers of Republican Party congressmen and women to lurch markedly to the right in order to shore up their conservative credentials and avoid becoming the victim of a primary challenge from younger, more zealous rivals.
In this febrile atmosphere, several prominent American advocacy groups publish “scorecards” for politicians around election time, ranking legislators based on their voting records or whether or not they agreed to sign a pledge to always oppose new taxes or do whatever else it is that the group wants them to do. But at least in America this is strictly limited to the world of party politics – it doesn’t extend to society at large.
Just what kind of brave new world are we creating, where holding only some beliefs in common is not enough as a prerequisite for living and working together, and where anything less than total wholehearted support for the prevailing political consensus marks one out as a heretic and persona non grata at non-partisan public events?
In many ways, it is a mark of how far the gay, lesbian and transgender rights movement has come, that the organisers of a gay pride march in London can now afford to be so choosy about who to admit to their circle of friends and allies. But it is also a mark of just how far we as a society have fallen, when we are so intolerant of dissenting opinions that we seek to banish them from our midst entirely, and reject help from those who fail to agree with us one hundred per cent of the time.
That a group of people who know better than most what it is to be ostracised and marginalised in society should now choose to mete out the same exclusionary treatment to some of their own brothers and sisters, simply for the “crime” of holding different political opinions on largely unrelated matters, is as sad as it is deeply ironic.
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You make some valid points, some crazy ones! Is it bigotry? UKIP members are not being excluded from the march, simply they are not allowed to march under a UKIP banner. UKIP campaigned against same sex marriage, hence they are an organisation not entirely in support of sexual equality. This seems to have been an issue for the organisers, the safety grounds are probably for the UKIP supporters who may face heckling from more radical people. Pride marches are a fun day out, an opportunity to express individuality in a safe environment. Having a political argument in this would detract from this safe environment. It is a shame that the extremists could take offense at their inclusion, if under a UKIP banner.
The Pride movement is for free speech, individual liberty and a non interfering state. UKIP are a libertarian party, their members do support many of the things Pride stand for too. It is a shame that UKIP are being excluded, a product of an increasingly radicalised world. It isn’t bigotry, it’s a fudge solution to a vocal minority, which is a shame. People of the right wing persuasion should feel Pride in there own sexualities too and be included in such marches.
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Well, yes. If you’re throwing a party to celebrate something, why would you invite the very people who campaigned against that “something”? Everyone should be invited to the debates, but not everyone has to be invited to the parties.
I’m almost certain that UKIP dropped their opposition to marriage equality in their 2015 manifesto. They have certainly since said that they would not seek to overturn the Equal Marriage Act:
Given the fact that none of the main political parties supported equal marriage until recently, what is the statute of limitations on having previously held homophobic or anti-equality opinions? Should Conservatives be banned from the parade because their party implemented Section 28 when Thatcher was Prime Minister, or does the fact that the Cameron government legalised gay marriage make up for those past sins?
There remain both homophobes and people opposed to gay marriage in all of Britain’s political parties. Singling out UKIP for exclusion because of a policy they have since abandoned seems highly selective and an act of spite, and (in my opinion, and based on the petition) more to do with punishing the party for its other political positions than their current approach to equal rights.
I agree with you that it is wrong to ban them, but I think there is a question of degree and appropriateness to be raised here, too. To everything there is a season: a time for confrontation and debate, and a time for unity and celebration. The fact I was unaware that UKIP had overturned their opposition to marriage equality is not, I am tempted to speculate, *entirely* because of the alleged left-wing bias of the press.
I have attempted to research this a bit further this afternoon but so far have been unable to establish, either from your blog or from any other news sources, whether other political parties will be participating under a party political banner (as opposed to private individuals with political affiliations). I support the idea that fair treatment should be extended to all, but am unable to comment further without first establishing what that fair treatment really is – something the media seem singularly unwilling to divulge, presumably because it would undermine the sensationalist angle. Which leaves me with just one principle, really; that of “first do no harm.” UKIP members’ past homophobic remarks will have caused more harm to the LGBT community than the exclusion of UKIP from Pride will cause party members. Again, I broadly agree with you, but I think it is a bit rich of UKIP to play the victim card here. They should never be silenced or excluded from any debate, but they don’t have to be invited to every party.
Valid analysis but let’s not be too hasty in excluding “physical safety” from the list. London Pride organisers might have ample reason to be concerned about the safety of all participants.
And the thing they’d certainly want to avoid would be media coverage showing people driven off in police vans, just like the other day at Whitehall, because someone got mobbed by some self-proclaimed state-sponsored social justice warriors of sorts.
I wouldn’t dissmiss this being one of their considerations; would highlight some of their failings, e.g they’re being not so tolerant after all…
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You make a fair point – there could indeed be a physical safety aspect, based on the violent impulses that UKIP’s values of small government and individual freedom seem to generate in the minds of many activists.