The death of a Ugandan homosexual rights activist who was targeted by a gay-hate newspaper, then murdered in his home is just one reason why gay men and straight men should join forces to end Violence Against Men and Boys.
Gay rights and men’s rights campaigners have never been comfortable bedfellows (and yes I’m playing with innuendo here), but I for one campaigned against the homophobic Section 28 in the Eighties and was very influenced by that campaign when helping to create some of Fathers 4 Justice’s headline-grabbing stunts during my time as the campaign’s PR Director.
And it is my belief that the exclusion of men and boys as a distinct and separate group in equalities thinking has not only discriminated against straight men but gay men too – even though they themselves have been categorized (along with their lesbian, bisexual and transgender peers) as an equality group.
One area where this connection between the inequality that straight and gay men face is strikingly obvious is in the world of violent crime.
Journalist Johann Hari writes that gay children are more prone to being victims of violence with 70% of gay children being bullied at school and 41% get beaten up – not a great start in life
Men in general are also more prone to violence, with two thirds of the 1.6 million people who die a violent death every year being male and young men in the UK more than twice as likely to die before the age of 25.
Gay people are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than straight people and men 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Most people in the UK now support gay ‘marriage’ but fewer people support gay men bringing up children than gay women. These anti-male attitudes about men’s ability to care for children affect straight men and gay men alike.
Gay men fight negative stereotypes that they “are all paedophiles” as do straight men who are increasingly presumed to be a danger to children unless proven safe – whether they are separating a father or just a man catching a plane.
When you start to make the comparisons, it’s clear that gay men and straight men need to come together (yes I’m still playing with innuendo here) and challenge the world’s collective tolerance of discrimination against men which puts us all at greater risk of violence, leaves us with less support services for issues of mental and emotional wellbeing and treats as all as potential perverts who can’t be trusted with children.
Glen Poole, Chair, The Men’s Network