American campaigners urged to fight both militarism and homophobia

By staff writers
October 20, 2009

American activists working for the inclusion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people within the military have been urged to avoid an uncritical approach to the armed forces.

The call came after over 200,000 people marched in Washington to call for a legal right to serve openly in the military, which currently operates a “don't ask, don't tell” policy which has been condemned by human rights organisations. US President Barack Obama has promised a change in the law.

However, activists who oppose both militarism and homophobia have expressed caution about the tone of the campaign.

One of the strongest criticisms has come from the American writer Bryan Farrell, who suggested that the equality achieved would involve being “equal accomplices in the exploitation of lower class Americans and the death of innocent families and the destruction of whole societies in Iraq and Afghanistan”

“Is America really a better place when an openly gay person can launch a drone attack?” he asked.

The human rights activist Peter Tatchell has not gone as far as Farrell, insisting that “the ban on open gays and lesbians serving in the US armed services is indefensible and should be opposed”.

However, he expressed disappointment that “the major US gay rights groups" don't question "whether gay people should want to be part of a homophobic organisation that has frequently been involved in gross violations of human rights, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanisatan".

Tatchell, the author of Democratic Defence and We Don't Want to March Straight, told Ekklesia that “the gay claim for equal rights and equal treatment can never be an unquestioning one. It should always be discerning”.

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