Bezorgde Amsterdammers on the Nashville Declaration

Back in 2017, U.S. Evangelicals drafted a 14-point statement of beliefs on sexuality. The document rejects the acceptance of LGBTIQ sexuality, condemning it as sinful, not according to “nature”, and as something that can, and ought to, be cured. This statement has been recently translated and released in the Netherlands, where it has acquired a few hundred signatures, mainly by prominent far-right religious leaders, including the head of the Reformed Church Party (SGP), which holds three seats in Parliament. Some Protestant Churches have responded by raising the rainbow flag, and the Public Prosecutor is currently investigating possible sanctions against this homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic text.

Beyond the necessary condemnation of such regressive views — and the hatred and harm they encourage towards those marginalized on lines of sexuality and gender — Bezorgde Amsterdammers calls attention to the wider political context of a rising far right. As we noted in October, when Jordan Peterson was invited to uncritically promote his views at the UvA, we are seeing a gathering confidence among the far right in using ‘free speech’ arguments as a means sidelining groups of people, like transgenders, who are seeing yearly increases in deaths from hate crimes.  These are world trends. In Hungary, Orban’s ethno-nationalist government has used similar biological essentialism in effectively purging gender studies from universities. At the start of this month, Bolsonaro and his LGTBIQ intolerant fascism, came to power in Brazil.

The global tendencies of the far right find their closest equivalents not so much in the  signatories of the Nashville Declaration, but in the PVV and FVD. Unlike the SGP, both these parties poll in double-digit figures and consistently use their larger platforms  to mobilize around a politics of resentment towards minority groups. Often mislabeled as “populists” (a depoliticised term that does not clarify social phenomena as much as it normalizes it), these far right parties  are generally known for promoting Islamophobia, a rising racism that gets further traction in the media. As with their other forms of racism, far right figures try to paint Islamophobia as either a cultural or religious phenomenon that has nothing to do with racialised groups of people. However, the Islamophobic agenda of these groups is once more confirmed in the relative silence with which they responded to the SGP’s decision to back this hate declaration. When it comes to far-right forces of Islamist fundamentalism, the PVV and FVD are  first in line to deploy “homonationalism,” a discourse in which “the secular West” is seen as a sanctuary for LGBTIQ, in contrast to “de Islam,” which represents barbarism. Unsurpringly, we heard no passionate defense of LGBTIQ rights when the threat comes from the white, Christian far-right. The chauvinist hypocrisy is also obvious in their “femonationalism,” where feminism is framed the the false choice of siding with the racist, nationalist far right in defense of a barbaric Islam that wants to turn conquer Europe and oppress women. As with “homonationalism” the far right does nothing to advance the cause of the marginalized groups whose struggles they misuse for a fear-driven strategy divide and conquer.

Our destinies are linked. No one is free — no one is safe — until all are free, all are safe, and all our rights and dignities are secured and realized.  Solidarity is based on looking at the material realities upon which we rely. The discrimination of the Nashville Declaration, and the silent acceptance it garnered among FVD and PVV show us once more that LGBTIQ discrimination, like sexism and racism, unites those who should be divided, and divides those who should be united. As long as the far right continues gaining ground in the Netherlands, Bezorgde Amsterdammers will continue the long and necessary, but nonetheless urgent, struggle to unite the various parts of the fragmented progressive movement into a coherent, unified fightback.