A British political leader will be mocked at London’s Gay Pride march tomorrow, as a placard carried by a leading human-rights activist shows him with blue eye shadow, red lipstick and pink swastika earrings.
Nick Griffin is leader of the far-right British National Party (BNP), which says it tolerates homosexuality but believes it is “firmly a matter for the individual and nothing to do with anyone else. There should be no more reason for ‘gay pride’ marches than there should be for ‘straight pride’ marches,” it declares on its website.
It is this attitude towards gay equality that has over the years annoyed gay campaigners, as well as its views on other social issues.
In 2009, the BNP described British gay politicians as “buggers” and “criminals”, according to a story in Pink News at the time.
In a news release today, Peter Tatchell – the Australian-born, London-based human-rights campaigner – says: “Griffin and the BNP are tinpot fascists who deserve to be mocked and ridiculed. I’m satirizing Griffin to debunk his grand political pretensions and to skewer his claim to respectability and legitimacy. He’s a joke and my placard reflects that.”
Tatchell says Griffin has a long history of homophobia: “His party is notorious for its racism, anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and Islamophobia. A disturbing number of past and present BNP members have criminal convictions for violence.”
Tatchell speaks of possible hypocrisy on Griffin’s part when he says: “Former far-right National Front leader Martin Webster claims that he had a homosexual relationship with Griffin many years ago, as reported in the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight. Griffin denies the relationship. If it was true, Griffin’s homophobia would be evidence of hypocrisy.”
Pride official photographer
A riot of colour – a previous Pride march in London
Griffin denied in an article in The Times in October 2009 that he had had an affair with Webster, who had apparently spoken of Griffin as his “bit on the side.”
The Times report goes on: “Although confirming he had often stayed overnight in Mr Webster’s London flat, Mr Griffin said he was unaware that the NF leader was gay ‘until he propositioned me when I was 16’.”
The Times says that the BNP – “which was born out of the remnants of the National Front” – no longer supports outlawing homosexuality, but quotes Griffin as saying: “I don’t hate gay people at all. But I find the sight of grown men kissing in the street repulsive.”
In July 2010 Tatchell – who helped to organize London’s first Gay Pride march in 1972 – confronted Griffin on camera, calling him a “gutless coward” (see the YouTube video at the top of this report).
A previous London Pride march
Tatchell cites a report in the BNP’s magazine Identity, saying: “According to Griffin, homosexuality is a ‘form of behavioural deviancy’ and ‘not a valid lifestyle choice.’ He erroneously claimed the BNP speaks for ‘the majority of the population’ who, he says, believe ‘homosexuality is wrong’ and that same-sex behaviour ‘needs to be pushed humanely but firmly back into the closet’. Griffin warns that if gays continue to ‘press their aims further’ there will be an ‘almighty backlash’ which will result in the imprisonment of all homosexuals.”
Identity does not appear to have a Web presence, and most of the BNP Web pages cited by Tatchell in his news release have disappeared; clicking on a link produces an error message.
Tatchell speaks of another leading member of the BNP, Mark Collett, who, on Russell Brand’s 2002 TV show Re-Brand, described gays as “AIDS monkeys,” “bum bandits,” and “faggots.”
Collett, 30, threw the party into a turmoil of controversy just before the UK general election of 2010 when he was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill Griffin.
However, Humberside police did not bring charges against Collett, who is thought to be no longer a BNP member.