Human rights is more than just gay rights

Chris Kok

Solidarity is one of the most important aspects of any social movement. When groups are able to unite, they create a force that is harder to ignore and more likely to make a change on society.

Unfortunately, solidarity is not as common as it should be.

Will the anti-war movement show solidarity with Palestinians?

In the feminist movement, there has historically been a lack of solidarity across race, class and orientation. Second-wave feminism often ignored the plight of black women. Gays and lesbians were many times attacked as being too controversial for the feminist groups to deal with.

The civil rights and black power movements also had to deal with this issue. Malcolm X told a white student that she could do nothing to help blacks because she was white. This is something that later in his life he grew to regret. Women’s position in the movement was to be “prone.”

In the labor movement, many men ignored the need for women’s suffrage, and the movement often refused to organize across racial lines.

At the same time as these splits in the different groups were happening, there were those who struggled against this. These people argued for solidarity regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, or nationality:

  • Answer International, the Campus Anti-war Network, and other anti-war groups have taken up solidarity with Palestinians.
  • Third-wave feminism has taken up issues of color, sexual orientation, and even war.
  • Huey Newton, a founding member of the Black Panther Party, said, “The women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.”
  • And the Industrial Workers of the World organized workers across race and sex. When the bosses would try to split up the workers on basis of nationality, the IWW would argue that the workers were stronger as a whole than if they were split up.

Solidarity is something that is difficult to achieve, and it always takes work. It is also something that is needed today.

The Human Rights Campaign released a report titled, “Buying for Equality.” In this report, the HRC rated corporations for how gay friendly they were. Thus people could buy goods from companies that supported gay rights.

Sadly though, the extent of HRC’s report was only gay rights. They gave Coca-Cola a perfect 100 rating even though it is being discussed if Coca-Cola conspires with paramilitary death squads in Columbia to kill union organizers.

Shell received an 85 even though its actions in Nigeria are destroying the environment and oppressing the Ogoni people.

Obviously the HRC is not worried about the human rights of people outside of the LGBT community. Fortunately people are acting for solidarity. Josh Sebrasky of the Queer Liberation Front wrote an open letter to the HRC criticizing it for supporting oppressive corporations. This letter can be found here.

I encourage everyone that supports human rights and gay rights to sign this letter. HRC should realize that gay rights and human rights cannot be separated.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].