IGLYO calls LGBTQI activists and organisations to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination that persists in Europe, even within the queer space
Monday 21st March 2016. We need to fight racism everywhere, every day. However, this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the International LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) Youth & Student Organisation wishes to draw attention to the experiences of LGBTQI youth and students who are racial/ethnic minority in Europe. Today IGLYO urges LGBTQI organisations and activists to not just condemn racism in other spheres but to also realise the existence of racism within our community. LGBTQI organisations must actively eliminate the structures that condone racism which prevents racialised LGBTQI youth from entering queer spaces.
The global community has observed the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination since 1967 but IGLYO recognises that in the recent years racism has acquired stronger foothold in European societies. The influx of refugees, the strengthening of nationalism and the populist politics have allowed the use of racist language and policies in Europe and signing treaties that are against core human rights. IGLYO rejects racism in all forms but notes that, in the current climate, it particularly marginalises LGBTQI people belonging to ethnic/racial minority as they are subjected to both heterosexism and racism (and also may subject to other forms of discrimination such ableism and misogyny).
IGLYO notes that prejudice against LGBTQI who are racial/ethnic minority exists also in queer spaces. The problematic nature of racism is not limited to the sphere of sexual and romantic relationships, where individuals openly proclaim their preference of not wanting to meet black or Asian LGBTQI individuals, but it also permeates our activism and work. The leadership of LGBTQI organisations consists of mainly white, able-bodied and cisgender people and this obstructs the proper representation of LGBTQI community in Europe. The lack of intercultural competences hinders the ability to adequately support and give counseling to LGBTQI youth of colour. Racist slurs and stereotyping present in our spaces alienate LGBTQI youth from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
IGLYO Board Member Nitin Sood states that LGBTQI organisations, including IGLYO, have largely failed to take into account the needs of LGBTQI youth who are racial/ethnic minority in Europe: “We have been so focused on including LGBTQI from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds in our work for the sake of diversity that we have been miserably unsuccessful in improving the quality of their lives. When they join our movement, we think our work is done and we can move on while what we should do is to listen to them and address the challenges that are unique to racialised LGBTQI youth.”
Subsequently IGLYO deems that is is damaging to portray immigrants and people from certain cultures and religions as homo- and transphobic. Nitin Sood continues: “We tend to assume automatically that ethnic communities are more belligerent towards sexual and gender diversity while in fact homo- and transphobia staunchly exists everywhere. No culture can claim to be completely free of discrmination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics and/or bodily diversity. Portraying certain minorities as hostile towards LGBTQI-people is an expression of white privilege that grants white people a sense of superiority over racialised people and we must outwardly reject such preconceived ideas. Whenever anti-immigrant politicians proclaim that the so called ‘surge’ of Muslims and refugees will threaten the lives of white LGBTQI people, we, as LGBTQI activists, should be at the forefront denying the false and highly racist claims that amplify racial stereotypes.”
Nitin Sood concludes: “The inhumane treatment of refugees and rising racism in Europe demonstrate that all actors must join the forces to combat racism in our societies. IGLYO believes that sexual and gender equality will not be truly achieved until racism is eradicated in all its forms. We recognise the importance of working together with other stakeholders, such as multicultural and anti-racist organisations, to advance our common goal of a world where all humans are able to enjoy fundamental rights and live without discrimination, violence or hatred.”
Working towards this vision IGLYO will organise two events in relation to the issue of LGBTQI and racism. Firstly, IGLYO will convene a roundtable in Copenhagen in May, where five LGBTQI youth leaders of diverse ethnic identities will work to identify the most pressing needs of LGBTQI people of colour. Later in fall, IGLYO will organise a five-day conference where 30 activists around Europe will come together with the aim of combating racism and ethnic discrimination within the LGBTQI community.
You can follow the updates and our work against racism within LGBTQI community with the #IGLYOAgainstRacism. We invite you to share your ideas and experiences using the same hashtag.