Stonewall, named after famous LGBT riot, disavows all violence

Stonewall activists at Pride in London (Creative Commons photo/Peter O'Connor)

LGBT charity Stonewall has disavowed all violence – despite taking its name from a famous riot.

The UK-based charity was founded in 1989 by actors Sir Ian McKellen and Lord Cashman together with LGBT activist Lisa Power and others.

It took its name from the famous riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, when the LGBT community rose up against police oppression across several nights of violent protest.

 

The Stonewall riots are often considered the birthplace of the LGBT rights movement, which is why Stonewall adopted its name.

But many were baffled over the weekend when the charity published a cryptic statement online disavowing ‘all violence’ in the name of LGBT rights.

The message, posted on social media with no context, says simply: “There is no place for violence in our movement, as a form of attack or retaliation. There is no resolution that will be achieved through violence or language inciting violence.

“Dehumanising discussion and actions hurt us all, divide us, and stokes that division.

“Stonewall has always achieved change through consensus building. We will find a way to that consensus, but it is clear that the current toxic discussion, and now violence, is not the way.

“We must find a way to achieve and maintain equality for trans communities that does not cause emotional damage and that makes people allies, not enemies.”

Social media users were taken aback by the statement, with many suggesting that Stonewall should change its name entirely.

Others pointed out that many Pride events in oppressive countries around the world are still the scene of violent clashes between LGBT activists, police and far-right activists.

In Turkey earlier this year, activists at Istanbul Pride attempted to fight back when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them in an attempt to shut down their march.

It is unclear whether Stonewall would have preferred the activists to try and “build consensus” with the police who were brutally assaulting them.

However, the charity has now sought to clarify its remarks.

It said that the statement was a response to stories about a clash between transgender activists and trans-exclusionary feminists at a rally last week in London’s Hyde Park.

A scuffle broke out between the two sides, with footage appearing to show a woman being hit in the face after she put a protester in a headlock.

Words by Nick Duffy

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