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Experts are now divided as to whether or not giraffes are actually gay

Vic Parsons October 30, 2019

Giraffes necking in South Africa. (Gilles MARTIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Labour’s great gay giraffe row is dividing experts who can’t agree whether giraffes are actually gay.

And, while the UK collectively groans at the news of a December general election, the hypothetical gay giraffe has been named “person to watch” in politics.

Are we… having a giraffe? No, sadly we’re not. Yesterday, political journalist Marie Le Conte stuck her neck out and named “a hypothetical gay giraffe” the “person to watch” in her biweekly politics column, Political i-Deology.

Le Conte wrote the column before the election was confirmed, granted, but this is an easily ignorable detail for the purposes of our wider story.

Are giraffes hypothetically gay or really gay? Does it matter? Would a gay giraffe make a better MP than a straight one? It’s a tall order, but we need to know.

First, a brief recap for those not up to their necks in the details of the great gay giraffe row: at the PinkNews Awards, Dawn Butler said “90 percent of giraffes are gay” while making a broader point about not being able to “teach gayness” and the importance of LGBT+ inclusive education in schools.

Then, a senior Corbyn policy adviser contested this, calling Butler “homophobic”, tweeting that male giraffes have gay sex to assert dominance over each other and arguing that this is “not gay behaviour” (some gays may disagree; PinkNews is neutral on this topic, in keeping with our non-partisan values).

Lachlan Stuart also bizarrely claimed that giraffes can’t be gay because there’s “no romance”, adding that giraffes are his favourite animal. Aw.

Next, a PinkNews investigation found a Natural History Museum researcher who – while not actually confirming that giraffes are gay, said that giraffes “like humans, use sex for multiple purposes, which can include dominance” and that they engage in both heterosexual and homosexual behaviour.

Finally, as the gay giraffe was named “person to watch” in UK politics and a general election announced, the rift in the world of giraffe sexual behaviour experts caused by Labour’s gay giraffe row was addressed by a Guardian piece.

“Are 90% of giraffes gay – or have their loving looks been misunderstood?” the Guardian asked yesterday, in a piece highlighting the split views of experts.

Giraffes fake hump and fight viciously, but are not gay, said Stephanie Fennessy, director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia.

But a life sciences researcher at the Natural History Museum said same-sex necking, licking, nuzzling and mounting is not always aggressive, and sometimes includes “genital stimulation”.

Either way, no one appears to be disagreeing that male giraffes have sex with each other.

In the absence of being able to interrogate a giraffe about their sexuality (which is actually the original point Butler was making: “If you can teach gayness, who speaks giraffe?”), PinkNews is going to leverage our 14 years of LGBT+ expertise and call it: giraffes are bisexual.

More: Dawn Butler, gay giraffe row, uk general election

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