Thursday, 5 August 2010

Diane Abbott: homophobic cultures have "very fragile grasp of masculinity"

Why can't gay men hold hands in Hackney? In an interview with Pink News Diane Abbott blames rampant homophobic bullying in schools - fostered by a homophobic Jamaican reggae culture and some fundamentalist churches.

Pink News writes: Ms Abbott has been the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, when she became the first black MP to be elected.

I tell her that I know gay men who live in Hackney – her constituency – who are too scared to hold hands with their boyfriends in public for fear of being attacked.

She's thoughtful and eloquent on this issue, seeing it as a problem perpetuated by men who have a "frail grasp of their own masculinity".

She says: "I think it's related to the issue of homophobic bullying [in schools]. In some ways, I think, homophobic bullying is more of an issue now than it was when I was at school. I can't recall people being bullied for their sexual preferences. Now it's a very common thing, to be honest, in city areas like this.

"And it's very oppressive for young men growing up and the way that they use the word gay as a term of abuse. It's all part and parcel of the same phenomenon. And I think we need to work more in schools, actually, to counter this type of thinking. I think kids, it's men, who have a very frail grasp of their own masculinity. They feel so threatened and challenged by sexual difference. but we need to challenge it."

She isn't afraid to link the issue with certain cultures, citing reggae artists from her parents' homeland in Jamaica who have "horrible homophobic lyrics".

She said: "You challenge them and they say, oh no, we don't have homosexuality here. But I go to Jamaica all the time, and there are gay people like everywhere else. I think it's interesting why people of certain cultures feel the need to be so radically homophobic and as I say, i think it's a matter of a very fragile grasp of masculinity.

"We need to challenge it in schools, primary and secondary schools, I think there's been a tendency in the past of teachers to shrug it off as teasing or bullying, but we need to take a much firmer line. We wouldn't allow people to be racially abused in schools. If you can deal with it in schools, you've got some chance of avoiding the sort of bullying and harassment that goes on in the street now."

On the issue of religious rights and gay equality, she contends that religious objections to issues such as civil partnerships and gay marriage are generally a "cover for homophobia".

No comments:

Post a Comment