The independent London newspaper

Malice and ignorance can be dressed up as debate

20 June, 2019

The front page of the New Journal on June 13

• AS a gay man, I’m thrilled to see you print your paper’s name with the rainbow flag during Pride month.

However I am concerned that we see a flood of new “debate” across our borough, where airtime is being given to radical groups who question trans people’s right to existence and free use of public services.

Arguments suggesting that gay people are predators and trans people are rapists and voyeurs have been used for decades to demonise and segregate the LGBT+ community.

These arguments, until recently consigned to the history books, have been dug up and polished off in an attempt to smear and attack the most vulnerable people in our society.

When women’s groups “invaded” the Hampstead Heath men’s pond wearing fake beards, they did so to protest transgender people being able to access public services that are open to all.

When anonymous letters to the editor claim “suspicion” around whether trans women should be allowed to use the women’s pond, couched with language such as “the demands of men who identify as women overriding the needs of Jewish and Muslim women”, we see malice and ignorance dressed up as debate, (Don’t forget there is a mixed pond for bathing on the Heath, May 30).

Trans people are perpetually bombarded with dog whistle language like this, that whispers: “Trans women are men in hiding, predators in your safe spaces, and a risk to your safety”.

It is an attack in the same spirit as anti-Semitism: a thinly veiled demonisation of a people group to separate, divide, and destroy.

Anti-Semites genuinely believe they are “maintaining open debate” and “speaking truth to power”. They claim that “political correctness is clamping down on academic discourse”.

They genuinely believe they are right, no matter how much the facts of the matter are presented to them. They push to get to positions from which they can spread malcontent and disinformation.

We see them for what they are, and their damaging lies are called out in the same press that welcomes “debate” around whether trans people are violent predators or whether it’s “morally right” for children to learn that some people have two dads.

Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have increased by 144 per cent per annum since 2013; 46 per cent of these are violent; 50 per cent of transgender people in the UK attempt suicide; 24 per cent of homeless young people in the UK are LGBT+, compared to LGBT people making up 6 to 8 per cent of the general population.

In the face of such a surge in violence and tragedy, we should be very careful about who we hand a microphone to. In times of civil unrest, such as these, the mob will always target the most vulnerable minorities.



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