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Understand the LGBTQIA+ news: Met Police, Kier Starmer, Neo-Nazis and Sex Ed

Understand the LGBTQIA+ news: Met Police, Kier Starmer, Neo-Nazis and Sex Ed

Matilda Davies
Jamie Wareham
QueerAF, Matilda Davies, Jamie Wareham

Every Saturday, QueerAF helps you understand the queer headlines and stay on top of the latest LGBTQIA+ content - all while we support queer creatives. This week, it's written by Matilda Davies, Jamie Wareham brings us the top story, and another queer creative as usual.

💬 This week:

  • Met Police. The damning report on London’s police this week brought its well-known but unspoken homophobia into the spotlight
  • Neo-Nazis. LGBTQIA+ supporters outnumbered anti-trans protesters 2:1 at a rally in Melbourne that made huge waves across Australia
  • Sex positive. Queer people have long censored themselves during sex education, but it’s at risk of getting worse, Fran Di Fazio writes

Skip the doom scrolling and support queer creatives instead. We are QueerAFand so are you.

The Lesbian Project: Yet another organisation spreading gender-critical views?

TL;DR: A report into the Met Police in the wake of Sarah Everard's murder found the UK's largest police force was institutionally homophobic, racist and sexist, and questioned whether the force should continue to exist. It verifies what many LGBTQIA+ people have known for far too long: anti-queer prejudice is baked into the force's practices.

An independent report published this week found that London’s Metropolitan Police is institutionally homophobic, racist and sexist. It even goes as far as asking if the force is fit for purpose.

The report confirms what many Londoners knew already. But its impact is significant.

Baroness Casey Review: What does the report say?

Written by Baroness Louise Casey, a government official, it found many serving LGBTQIA+ officers were being routinely bullied.

Specifically, 22% of LGBTQIA+ respondents said they had experienced some form of bullying while at work. 14% said it occurred every week. That's a stark figure - for any organisation - Report

LGBTQIA+ officers have reported 'obsessive' homophobia from senior officers. The report notes some were asked if they were "up for threesomes", and told gay sex was “disgusting”. It outlines how much of this was was brushed under the carpet - PinkNews

Queer and lesbian women, in particular, faced deeply personal questions about their sex lives in the Met, including questions like “who’s the man in the bedroom?”, or whether they were “chatting up” members of the public.

Even this quick glance at the report makes clear how deeply rooted homophobia is within the Metropolitan Police. Of course, to many this is not news. Met prejudice has been self-evident to Londoners for decades - and there is no better example than the Stephen Port murders.

As the gripping but heartbreaking drama Four Lives showed, homophobia played a huge part in the failure to prevent the murders. The victims’ families reiterated calls for the Met to take responsibility - Evening Standard

Interviewing the Met Police: My experience said it all

I remember when I went to speak to Met Police officers about chemsex.

In that interview, they admitted for the first time they'd made mistakes around the Port case - Gay Star News

When I entered that famous Embankment building, I took the lift with the two detectives I was interviewing, and quite by accident we shared it with lesbian and then-leader of the Met, Cressida Dick.

It was strange to see the person ultimately responsible for the failures I was investigating right there, in her jogging outfit. And as I went further into the building for an extended interview - two hours - something else strange became apparent.

The officers, who were supposed to be specialists in chemsex, had little understanding of what it meant to the gay community. At one point, they said they'd learned more about it from reading my articles than they had on the beat.

All the while, there was an aura of smugness. From Dick in her sporty attire to the Senior Police Officers talking matter-of-factly about failing so many gay men, their attitude told me they thought they knew better than this kid journalist. I'd spent months listening to survivors of chemsex, sexual assault and addiction - understanding their pain. They understood so little.

Even when they admitted their faults, it was like watching naughty schoolchildren who didn't want to apologise.

Analysis: Not just bad apples

Many have asked why the Police seem at war with the capital they are supposed to protect, as Paul Mason sets out in the New Statesman. This report finally gives us an answer. Its values are at odds with a city that many flock to to be themselves.

The Met has long blamed 'bad apples' for its failures. It's a phrase so well-known it's even been referenced in Line Of Duty. This report puts that argument to bed.

Indeed, the review itself notes that the Met has "only reluctantly accepted discrimination" and has "preferred to put this down to a minority of ‘bad apples’."

Instead, the extent of prejudice on many levels has been brutally brought into the open. Policing is supposed to be conducted by consent in the UK. But, as this report sets out, the Met is in danger of losing that from Londoners.  It could even be split up entirely and branded as not fit for purpose.

It's a moment of reckoning that many campaigners over the years have long called for.

Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:
Welcome to the latest 100% QueerAF members Elly Turner and Riaz.

Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay,queer,disabled I started QueerAF to fund queer media careers. Will you join our movement?

🐤 Why did it trend

Skip the doomscrolling. We tell you what happened in as few words as possible so you're in the know – without giving hate more clicks.
  • Running out of ideas: Emily Kaht ran a half-marathon “inspired by JK Rowling” with a sign that said, “this witch doesn’t burn”, which reportedly won her a Guinness World Record for the fastest half-marathon dressed as a witch. Of course, the gays on Twitter came for her - Queerty

Quick news for queers

🔴 Kier Starmer

The Labour leader has spoken out about trans rights under a Labour government, in what some papers have described as a climb down

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Express, Kier Starmer said Scotland's self-ID law was an example of the dangers of changing the law without bringing the public with you.

Though this may make sense at face value to some, much equality legislation has brought in despite attitudes towards minorities being prejudiced.

The Labour leader has been criticised for signalling they will match the Conservatives planned attack on trans rights in the upcoming election instead of challenging their rhetoric.

Others argued leaders should lead the public forward, instead of blocking reforms simply citing public ignorance.

🇦🇺 Neo-Nazis and trans rights

The far-right National Socialist Movement and other Neo-Nazi groups protested in support of anti-trans campaigner Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull in Melbourne in a monumental ‘culture war’ clash.

LGBTQIA+ protesters went to a talk by Keen-Minshull - better known as Posie Parker - titled ‘Let Women Speak’ in Melbourne, Victoria. They arrived to find counter-protesters opposing them, marching while performing the Nazi salute - PinkNews

Victoria liberal party MP Moira Deeming spoke at the ‘Let Women Speak’ event, and is now facing expulsion from the party - ABC

Victoria’s government has now proposed a law banning the Nazi salute, which attorney general Jaclyn Symes said was being used to “incite hatred” and “as a recruitment tool” - Guardian

Queensland followed suit, vowing to make it illegal to display swastika tattoos, which is already a law in New South Wales - Guardian

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton proposed a federal ban on Nazi symbols - Guardian

New Zealand considered banning Posie Parker from the country to halt the next leg of her speaking tour, but has now decided she will be allowed into the country - Asia Pacific Report

Later, there was a second protest, where LGBTQIA+ group Community Action for Rainbow Rights protested a speech by far-right politician Mark Latham in Sydney. A mob showed up to counter-protest, throwing rocks and bottles at the peaceful protesters, leading to two arrests - ABC

🛍️ Trouble in Primark

Primark has moved back to segregated changing rooms, dedicating some sections to “women only” and others to “any gender”.

Despite having all-gender changing rooms since 2019, the retailer has now returned segregated cubicles. The new sign, spotted by social media users, reads: “These fitting rooms are for Women only. We also have Any Gender fitting rooms available for everyone - please ask” - LBC

Debate has raged online, but Primark confirmed anyone who identifies as a woman can use the female section, provided they don’t “abuse the system” - Primark

Trans journalist India Willoughby said the signs are a result of the retailer “succumbing to trans hysteria” - India Willoughby

📰 In brief

  • Disney: Despite its well-known history of donating to anti-gay politicians (including sponsors of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law), Walt Disney Co is hosting an LGBTQIA+ rights summit in Orlando this year - Tampa Bay Times
  • Media representation: GLAAD's 27th annual report found LGBTQIA+ representation in television decreased in the 2022-23 season - GLAAD
  • Trans education: Education secretary Gillian Keegan said her department is “currently finalising” transgender guidance for schools, to be published this Spring - TES
  • Paris Hilton: In advance of the publication of her upcoming memoir, the socialite has addressed her previous use of homophobic and racist language - PAPER
  • Japan: Ambassadors from the UK, the US, the EU and more have called for Japan to introduce legal protections for LGBTQIA+ citizens - Human Rights Watch
  • Conversion therapy: SNP MP John Nicolson has called for conversion therapy to be fully banned finally, saying no one can “freely choose” to undergo the practice - PinkNews
QueerAF is part of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition.

Do you have first-hand experience of it? Please consider sharing your story (anonymously, if you prefer) to help bring the long-promised ban into action.


Spotlight: EastEnders

Our spotlight on content that sparks hope or joy returns! The change we want is out there.

Television is a powerful medium, and EastEnders used that power for good this week.

In a new storyline writers worked on with the Terrence Higgins Trust, millions of viewers learned about PrEP and how effective it is at preventing HIV infection. Public service broadcasting at its best.

Must reads

Trans Australia

Australia’s trans community was thrust into the spotlight this week. Anti-trans hatred is ramping up around the world, but trans identities are nothing new. Here’s a brief history of trans people and gender-bending in Australia since the 19th century - The Conversation

Trans people aren’t new, and neither is their oppression: a history of gender crossing in 19th-century Australia
In the 19th century there was no formal or medical process for gender transition. When people crossed gender categories, they did so socially, sometimes for their entire lifetimes.

Queer parenthood

Becoming a parent is a life-changing journey. Bisexual activist Lewis Oakley has opened up about his fears that becoming a father would erase his identity - Metro

I worried becoming a dad would mean losing my bisexual identity
For many bisexuals, having children pushes them back into the closet.

Gay in Wales

A Just Like Us ambassador decided to get involved in the charity after enduring inadequate sex education and intolerance growing up in Wales. But going to Aberystwyth University made him fall in love with his home nation again, and now he wants to share that with other queer Welsh young people - Wales Online

‘It should never have taken me until university to feel accepted by society’
Tristan Wood, 20, said he was bullied at school because of his sexuality and gender-identity

Queer Gaze: Marcel the oscar-nominated shell - and your new queer icon

Our landmark scheme for underrepresented or emerging creatives to share their gaze and get a writing skills session. This week, it's Fran Di Fazio.

My last year in middle school had two sex education sessions. I missed the second one due to a nasty flu.

Even more annoying than my burning fever was knowing I had missed my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask what “kinks” were.

Questions like that could soon be banned from Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) lessons in schools in the UK. Rishi Sunak has announced the government will review existing teaching guidelines “to make sure schools are not teaching inappropriate or contested content.”

The announcement came in response to unsubstantiated concerns voiced in Parliament by Tory MP Miriam Cates. Using emotional language she said pupils are being exposed to “age-inappropriate” and “graphic” lessons. These claims came even though many schools are already able to opt-out of including information about LGBTQIA+ lives in sex ed, with a variety of justifications available including faith ties.

It’s important to see this in the bigger picture. In the US, what started as ‘age-appropriate’ concerns soon morphed into a “moral panic” against the LGBTQIA+ community. This led to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills censoring LGBTQIA+ books and educational materials altogether.

Cates’s long-standing anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric relies on textbook “moral panic”. Mentions of kinky sexual practices like choking, and exaggerations like the reference to “72 genders” in her prejudiced parliamentary speech, are a clear attempt to depict queerness as sexually deviant and dangerous to young people.

Basing a review of RSHE on one MP’s anti-LGBTQIA+ prejudice is not only unreasonable. It reeks of America’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ trend.

Laïla El-Métoui, founder of LGBTQIA+ education charity Pride in Education, stressed the detrimental impact censorship has on young people who are queer or questioning. Sex education, she told QueerAF, should teach about healthy relationships, consent and diversity “to support learners’ wellbeing and development.”

Rather than catering to adults’ moral panics, any review of RSHE should begin with pupils’ real-life experiences and needs in mind.

At age 14, most people in my class had watched porn. Some of us were realising they weren’t straight or had growing feelings of discomfort about their bodies. All of us were clueless about issues like consent, abusive relationships, and yes, even the fact that queer people existed.

Sure, putting condoms on bananas is a useful exercise. But it would have been helpful to also talk about our most pressing issues and curiosities.Sex education gives young people the opportunity to discuss topics they wouldn’t normally talk about with adults.

Sex education should be age-appropriate - no doubt. But it should also be taboo- and prejudice-free to help young people navigate sexuality happily and safely.

Thanks to Louise, who funded this piece with their QueerAF membership.

Tickle Your Queer Senses

📺 TV

The Big Door Prize is a new TV show coming to Apple TV+ next week (29th March) about a machine that predicts people’s destinies. It follows Cass (played by Gabrielle Dennis), Dusty (Chris O’Dowd) and their family, which includes Cass’ lesbian mum - AutoStraddle

🎥 Film

The Five Devils was described by DAZED as ‘a bisexual Back To The Future’, and we’re already sold. The French film hit UK cinemas on Friday, and includes a bisexual love triangle, time travel and a magic nose. What’s not to love? - DAZED

💿 Album

Indie rock legend Kele Okereke - the former frontman of Bloc Party - released his sixth studio album on Friday. The Flames Pt.2. is a follow-up to his 2021 album The Waves Pt.1., and showcases the singer-songwriter’s unfiltered, pared back sound - DIY

📚 Book

Jinwoo Chong’s debut novel Flux follows three characters in a time-bending narrative that sees each uncover and grapple with personal and systemic traumas. Released on Tuesday, it has already made Chong a writer to watch and a rising star of queer literature - NY Times

🗓️ What's On?

Next Thursday, it’s Trans Day of Visibility, where we celebrate trans identities and fight for a better future for the trans community. There will be some brilliant events happening across the nation - for our Liverpool readers, here’s a helpful list of everything that’s going on in your city - Liverpool Echo

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In pride,

Matilda Davies - QueerAF Contributor

Queer Creative Credits: Thanks to Rowan Gavin for this week's sub-edit, Jamie Wareham for the top story, and to Helen Bowie for their Queer Gaze.