UK

LGB Alliance slammed over calls to close down saunas and dark rooms over monkeypox

Emily Chudy May 31, 2022
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LGB Alliance officially recognised as a charity – what does it mean?

The LGB Alliance's logo.

The LGB Alliance has come under fire for arguing that sex venues, including gay saunas, should be closed to curb the spread of monkeypox.

A series of tweets by the LGB Alliance were reportedly removed by Twitter for violating its community rules before being reinstated, and are currently available to view.

The charity, which campaigns against trans rights reforms, wrote in a tweet: “Monkeypox is spreading and gay and bisexual men have been affected disproportionately.”

“That is why we call for the urgent closure of all strip clubs, saunas, massage parlours, fetish events and clubs with dark rooms… whatever the sexual orientation of the clientele,” it added in an open letter.

“Monkeypox does not respect anyone’s sexuality. However, there is an additional urgency right now to close those premises that cater for a minority of gay and bisexual men since the disease initially seems to have spread among sexual networks linked to three major gay sites”.

The LGB Alliance added: “We are writing to the health secretary to ask him to draw up plans to enforce this if necessary.

“Our collective experience of both AIDS and COVID shows the importance of swift and decisive action. If we act now festivals and Pride events are more likely to be able to go ahead.”

Though the LGB Alliance said it was calling for all commercial sex venues “regardless of clientele” to close, many pointed out that the UK’s dark rooms, saunas and leather bars cater almost, if not entirely, exclusively to queer men.

The suggestion that sex venues close in order for “festivals and Pride events” to go ahead was also heavily criticised.

“It’s divisive crap, singling out the good gays from the bad gays,” tweeted the director of the Breeches & Leather Uniform Fanclub.

“Why are you more likely to spread [monkeypox] in a leather bar, exactly? You can just as easily get it in [G-A-Y].”

Many drew parallels between the LGB Alliance’s suggestion and rhetoric around closing gay bathhouses during the AIDS crisis. Good Law Project barrister Jo Maugham called it “gay plague messaging about monkeypox”.

One Twitter user said of the tweets: “LGB Alliance no longer content with targeting trans people, now they’re coming for gay and bisexual men with tropes straight out of the 80s.”

In response to criticism it had employed “vile anti-gay and -bisexual tropes”, LGB Alliance founder Malcolm Clark tweeted: “LGB Alliance called for ALL commercial sex venues to be closed because of monkeypox. ALL venues not just gay ones. This was reported as hate speech. The same was said to Larry Kramer when he demanded bath houses be closed during AIDS.”

Organisations including UNAIDS have warned against stigmatising the LGBTQ+ community through monkeypox messaging.

Mateo Prochazka, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the UKHSA, told PinkNews: “We don’t want to ask people to have less sex or to change their relationship around sex because there’s a context and a history to that, but we want people to be aware this is happening and to be signposted to the right services.”

Prochazka added that monkeypox is not sexually transmitted but can be spread during sex via close contact – something he said is an important distinction.

Some doctors have suggested that monkeypox could be reported as higher in gay and bisexual men simply because the community is more aware of sexual wellness than heterosexual men.

Dr Claire Dewsnap, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told PinkNews: “One thing that we don’t know for certain yet is whether the reason we’re seeing it in gay men is because they’re going to clinics.

“It’s very common for a gay man who’s been sexually active with a new partner to think, ‘I’ve got a funny rash, it could be syphilis, it could be herpes, I’ll go to my clinic’.”

The LGB Alliance claims to stand for lesbian and gay rights, but since it was founded has spent the majority of its resources obsessing over trans rights.

Since its launch in October 2019, the LGB Alliance – which denies it is transphobic – has been branded a “hate group” by several LGBTQ+ people and organisations, including Pride in London, gay SNP MP John Nicolson, the LGBT+ Lib Dems and gay Scottish actor David Paisley.

It was awarded charitable status in April 2020 to much controversy.

The Charity Tribunal has since agreed to hear an appeal, brought by Mermaids and supported by the Good Law Project along with several LGBT+ groups including the LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, Trans Actual and the LGBT Foundation. It will be heard in May.

A spokesperson for Mermaids said the group was looking forward to the hearing, where the group “will have to explain themselves”.

“To be registered as a charity, an organisation must be established exclusively for charitable purposes,” the spokesperson added, commenting: “LGB Alliance does not stand for LGB rights, but exists to divide our community and denigrate trans people and those who support them.”

A spokesperson for Charity Commission, when approached by PinkNews regarding the LGB Alliance’s tweets, said: “The Charity Commission expects trustees of charities that use social media to do so in a way that complies with their trustee duties, including the duty to act in the charity’s best interests and comply with the law.

“We expect charities to demonstrate good practice, for example, by following relevant codes of conduct. We also expect trustees to understand the risks to the charity of the charity’s social media activity and communications.”

The LGB Alliance has been contacted for comment.

More: lgb alliance, Monkeypox, Twitter

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