LGBT+ people staged a “kiss-in” to beat back the bigots in London’s Parliament Square on Friday.
Up to 100 protesters snogged, danced and chanted, “We’re here, we’re queer—don’t fuck with us," and, “Boris Johnson bog right off, you homophobic Tory toff.”
The kiss-in against came against the backdrop of a rise in hate crimes against LGBT+ people in Britain. In London homophobic hate crimes increased from 1,488 in 2014 to 2,308 in 2018.
Jaroslaw from the Polish Rainbow in the UK group told the rally he feared going out after he suffered a homophobic assault in Vauxhall, south London. “I came to Britain because life as a gay person in Poland is shit,” he said.
“I found an ocean of acceptance—or so I thought. During 15 years in London it had never happened, then I experienced the rise in attacks.
“It took me three months to leave the house, it took me six months to go back to work.”
Protesters were determined to resist the rise in homophobic hate crimes. Sophie, a trans woman and Labour Party member from west London, said, “I’m not here because I want to be—I’m here because I need to be.
“We face physical assaults, we face verbal assaults, we face social media assaults.”
She added, “There is no safe space for trans people.
“What’s scary about is not that it’s hateful—it’s that it’s normal.”
Nicola Field, one the organisers, argued for a “new wave of queer militancy against oppression”. “We want to start a new movement because we’re seeing a rise in attacks,” she said.
“Let’s give the bigots hell and drive them back into the sewers where they belong.”
The kiss-in also came amid a growing attempt by bigots to roll back LGBT education in schools. Mainly Muslim parents organised protests outside Parkfield and Anderton Park primary schools in Birmingham last term.
After Parkfield school dropped LGBT+ lessons, bigots in Manchester and east London discussed organising their own campaigns.
Michael Dance, the NEU education union LGBT+ national organising forum officer, said defending relationship and sex education was vital. “Every child should feel safe and be able to come to their own understanding of their identity,” he said.
The bigots’ push has been opposed by LGBT+ organisation, including a number of Muslim LGBT+ groups.
Ejel Khan of the Muslim LGBT Network spoke at the kiss-in about the need to fight back against hate crimes. “There is a backlash against LGBT rights,” he said.
“We have to make sure people are safe.”
Activists said the kiss-in at Parliament Square was part of building a network that can respond whenever there is an attack on an LGBT+ person.
Sean, an LGBT+ activists from east London, invoked the radicalism of the Stonewall Uprising. The riots, which saw their 50th anniversary in June, gave birth to the gay liberation movement in the US and Britain. “If it wasn’t Stonewall, we wouldn’t have Pride in the first place,” he said.
“But we now allow police onto our marches, forgetting the history of what we faced.”
Other speakers argued that there needs to be a radical movement that fights for liberation and against our oppressive society, not just equality before the law. Nicola added, “The reforms we’ve won haven’t brought us liberation.
“The Stonewall Riots were part of a movement against the system itself.”