Stop Exploiting LGBT Issues to Demonize Islam and Justify Anti-Muslim Policies

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Stop Exploiting LGBT Issues to Demonize Islam and Justify Anti-Muslim Policies

"The instant exploitation of this attack," writes Greenwald, "is part of a more general trend of exploiting liberal social issues to glorify agendas of militarism, tribal conflicts, and aggressive foreign policies." (Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

In the late 1990s, Eric Rudolph – raised Catholic and affiliated for a time with a Christian Identity sect – bombed abortion clinics and a gay bar, insisting they were venues of immorality and evil. Last July, an Orthodox Jewish Israeli attacked the marchers in the Jerusalem LGBT pride parade, stabbing six of them, and one of them, a teenager, died of her wounds; justifying his attacks by appealing to Talmudic punishments for homosexuality, he had just been released from a 10-year prison term for doing the same in 2005. Yesterday, a Christian pastor from Arizona, Steven Anderson, praised the slaughter of 49 people in an Orlando LGBT club on the ground that “homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts” and are “pedophiles.”

Violent attacks on gay bars in the U.S. have long been common, as Sociology Professor Greggor Mattson documented today: “the crime blotters of the gay press have always been punctuated by attacks on patrons at gay bars and continue to be today,” including killings. In 2014, a brutal hate crime against a gay couple was carried out by staff and students at a Catholic high school. In overwhelmingly Catholic and evangelical Brazil, killing of trans women is now an epidemic. The Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi” was repeatedly targeted in the U.S. with bomb threats and had to be cancelled because it depicted Jesus as gay.

A 2015 Pew Poll found that U.S. Muslims were more accepting of homosexuality than evangelical Christians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses


The instant exploitation of this attack is part of a more general trend of exploiting liberal social issues to glorify agendas of militarism, tribal conflicts, and aggressive foreign policies. Decorate the GCHQ headquarters or the Tel Aviv city hall with the LGBT’s rainbow flag colors and suddenly mass surveillance and decades-long military occupation seems pretty and liberal. Choose militaristic U.S. Presidents who represent social milestones of race and gender and suddenly their militarism seems to liberals to be more tolerable and even inspiring. Pretend that the war on Afghanistan is about feminism, and aggression toward Iran is about protecting LGBTs, and watch liberals melt with appreciation. Disguise anti-Muslim animus as pro-LGBT activism and one can quickly expand support for a neocon mentality and agenda into large sectors of western liberalism.

Depicting anti-LGBT hatred as the exclusive (or even predominant) province of Islam is not only defamatory toward Muslims but does a massive disservice to the millions of LGBTs who have been – and continue to be – seriously oppressed, targeted, and attacked by people have nothing to do with Islam. The struggle of LGBTs around the world is difficult enough without having them cynically used as some sort of prop to bash a group that itself is already being bashed from multiple directions.

Read the full article, including possible updates, at The Intercept.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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