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Response to homophobic comments regarding Hampstead Heath occupation

 

The comments reported in the Pink News and Ham & High are not representative of Occupy London and are against our own Safer Spaces Policy, which is very clear: “Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation is unacceptable and will be challenged.” [http://occupylondon.org.uk/about/safer-space-policy)

Occupy is made up of individuals and these are the reported comments of an individual – comments that run contrary to positions decided by consensus at Occupy in its very earliest days and remain at the core of how we relate to and show respect for one another. As a movement, when something like this happens, it is essential that we challenge the language used and assumptions that appear to have been made in order to understand fully what happened; to educate and make people aware of their own privilege and the oppression of others. Occupy may be open to all, but it is not open to all behaviours.

The individual concerned has been spoken with. He says that a number of questions were conflated in the editorial, confusing topics and lending a meaning to his words that he had not intended. The Occupy Nomad camp has had praise from locals (as well as some negative comments) for helping make them feel safer and that crime has dropped in the areas they have occupied. The interviewee contends that this got conflated with cruising as an ‘issue’ in the way the reporter asked the questions and wrote the article.

It is important to remember the history of Hampstead Heath, the fight for gay and queer rights, the stigma that has had to be overcome and that which still continues, exacerbated by the actions of the Con-Dem government and their austerity measures, which are affecting LGBTQI communities dramatically. Occupy London stands in complete solidarity with LGBTQI communities and apologises for any offence these reported comments may have caused.

 

7 Responses to “Response to homophobic comments regarding Hampstead Heath occupation”

  1. “Occupy London … apologises for any offence these reported comments may have caused.”

    Bullshit. That’s a standard non-apology, ‘apology’ so beloved of politicians.

    ‘We are sorry if YOU were offended’ places the responsibility on those who were offended, and not on the bigot who made the disgusting comments.

    Timothy Sullivan was quoted directly and spoke about ‘vaporising’ gay men from Hampstead Heath. Something more than this pathetic non-apology is required.

    While Timothy Sullivan remains part of Occupy and while he refuses to acknowledge his bigotry and refuses to apologise for the grave offence he caused, then the Occupy movement is clearly not a welcoming place for the LGBT community.

     
  2. OccupyLSX/OccupyLondon camps have had representatives who were from the LGBT community. To state that Occupy London is some sort of haven for homophobes is idiotic.

    The same happened to the Nomads in Mile End. We pulled up saplings of self-seeding sycamore to make a shelter, it got reported that we were destroying the area, by cutting down trees.

    One throwaway comment, becomes conflated to mean something else.

    As for people having this desire to have sex in public places, all the best to you.

     
  3. Occupy Corporate London is over! Been moved to a field known only to local residents in the statistically poorest borough in the whole of the United Kingdom is not technically occupying, but is known as squatting. Nothing new for Hackney!!! They known inequality for a lot longer than the economic bubble was created. Not a Bankster in sight in Shoreditch. I hope this is only temporary and a deserving time-out/summer holiday before coming back with renewed vigor where it counts-somewhere relevant,somewhere visible, not somewhere controlled, herded and casino-capitalistically convenient. But alas, it might be too late already!

     
    • On the contrary. Much like Occupy Wall Street has ackowledged that the enemy is powerful, Occupy London have done the same.

      OWS have started gaining allies by assisting those who have had their houses seized by the Banks. Occupy London have started Nomadic camps to reach into local communities, particularly amongst the homeless ignored by the government.

      Half the people we converse with, know more about X-factor or Eastenders than the politics of their country. They watch television, but tune to another channel instead of watching the news. Many have never heard of the 130,000+ Spanish people marching in Barcelona or the 300,000+ Canadians marching through Montreal.

      I ask the question to people on barely minimum wage, who have to pay £500-£600 a month in rent. “How much would you save, if you lived in a tent for six months?” All they need is a gym membership and they can occupy.

      As for those in Shoreditch, it has great surroundings and bigger space for them to relax. The local people are friendly and they do not feel like they are in enemy territory. With hostile people shouting “Get a job!”

      We don’t need a job. We have an OCCUPATION!

       
  4. It is not fair to judge the whole Occupy movement by the comments of one supporter. In any movement there will be a few who clearly don’t share the vision or values that brought people together in the first place. But it cannot be emphasised enough: . The fight for social acceptance is as important as the fight against classism and income inequality. One cannot happen without the other.

    The society that has given us huge income inequality is one that has been built on elevating patriarchal nuclear families as being the only acceptabe family unit, while treating others as outcasts. Even now, Many of the people who end up cruising in parks are victims too, forced into marriages, they have nowhere else to go to. A huge proportion of homeless people today are LGBTQI, thrown out as teenagers by families who do not accept them for who they are. These people feel the pain of cuts to public services. LGBT people, like other minorities, are likely to understand more than most, why a society in which a few wealthy people, (Brian Souter etc) can fund political parties and influence policies, is dangerous. For so many reasons then, there is a natural common cause with LGBT people and Occupy. I recommend Hannah Dee’s ‘red in the rainbow’, in which you can take inspiration from Edward Carpenter.

    On the whole, I wish the movement did a little more to communicate its own vision, what it stands for, as much as what it is against. PS we can fall into the trap of being opposed to all sorts of -isms, which is all very well, but let’s talk about people!

     
  5. Will each and one of you go back to to finsbury square and clean the place up and leave it the way you found it you disgusting people. You are a complete disgrace. You are a a little fish in a big pond dead on the surface stinking the place out. If you think your movement is making any sense or have a chance of any change you are completely mistaken, next time clean up after yourselves you are acting like gypsies.

     
    • To Chris Costin:

      Feel better now? Acting like gypsies?

      Go away and get a brain.

       

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