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.