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LGB Alliance ‘insults’ gay men with call to shut venues over monkeypox

Tweet called for closure of strip clubs, saunas and other LGBT spaces ahead of Pride

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Nandini Archer
31 May 2022, 4.28pm

Pride flag outside the British Museum, London UK 2009

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Kevin Foy / Alamy Stock Photo

Controversial group the LGB Alliance has been accused of homophobia for demanding for the “urgent closure” of strip clubs, saunas and other gay businesses over the monkeypox outbreak.

Ahead of Pride month, which begins tomorrow, the group’s statement on Twitter read: "Monkeypox is spreading and gay and bisexual men have been affected disproportionately. That’s why we are calling on all commercial sex venues, such as saunas, leather/fetish bars and clubs with dark rooms to be closed for a month.” 

Twitter removed the tweets, saying they had violated its content rules, but today the posts appeared to have been reinstated. Twitter did not respond to questions over its U-turn.

The LGB Alliance claims it wants to advance the interests of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. It has been accused of predominantly lobbying against transgender rights. 

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Now its recent posts have led LGBT advocates to accuse it of failing the groups it claims to represent, too.

Public health researcher David Bath and his friend Rob McNicol were both diagnosed with monkeypox earlier this month.

David told openDemocracy: “It’s important that public health policy is proportionate, informed by experts, and done in consultation with the communities it will affect. The LGB Alliance’s unhelpful call for a closure of queer spaces is none of these things. As a member of the queer community who has recently recovered from monkeypox, they don’t speak for me.”

Rob added: “Queer spaces are vital for sharing information and bring our LGBTQ+ community together. To be calling for their closure at a time like this is insulting and counter productive. Stigmatising illness and sex won’t stop people catching monkeypox but it will make tracing its spread more difficult if people aren’t confident sharing where they caught it.”

Michelle Snow, founder of the news service What the Trans, told openDemocracy: “A pro-LGB charity would not call for LGBT spaces to be closed.”

‘This is not a gay disease’

Monkeypox is generally mild and has been endemic in some central African countries for years. Since its recent outbreaks in Europe, the US and Australia, public health efforts have been hampered by homophobia and racism.

“This is not a gay disease as some people on social media have attempted to label it,” stressed WHO HIV advisor Andy Seale last week in a Q&A session

Meanwhile, the WHO’s official website states: “Stigmatising people because of a disease is never OK. Anyone can get or pass on monkeypox, regardless of their sexuality.”  

“If the LGB Alliance is trying to kid people that they’re a credible alternative to Stonewall then doing a poor 1980s Thatcherite AIDS scare cosplay is a funny way of going about it,” trans author Christine Burns MBE told openDemocracy. 

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell agreed: "This is what right-wing extremists urged during the AIDS crisis. It's further evidence that the LGB Alliance espouses a right-wing morality agenda.

“Closing gay saunas won’t stop the spread of monkeypox. Attendees will simply switch to online hookups and outdoor cruising grounds. Far more effective is for saunas and other gay venues to educate customers about the symptoms and the importance of testing and isolation for those with signs of monkeypox." 

LGB Alliance has been dubbed a ‘hate group’ by some. One of its supporters was recently suspended from the Conservative party after tweeting an image that apparently equated trans, intersex and people of colour with Nazis. 

Meanwhile, openDemocracy revealed earlier this year that it met with equalities minister Kemi Badenoch to argue against the inclusion of trans people in protections against conversion therapy.

The LGB Alliance has been approached for comment.

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