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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights: Activists around the world react to Capitol siege


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Supporters of President Trump stand in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Activists around the world say the U.S. Capitol siege demonstrated white supremacy remains a pervasive problem in the U.S.

Naomi
Fontanos, executive director of Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA), an
LGBTQ advocacy group in the Philippines, on Saturday told the Washington Blade
“the attack on the U.S. Capitol was not a revelation, but a confirmation
of what America is really is: A hotbed of structural, institutional and
systemic racism.”

“After
the massive protests brought about by the death of George Floyd, it was
saddening to see that not much has changed in terms of white supremacist, toxic
masculine aggression and violence and how easily these can be mobilized under a
macho-fascist leader like Trump,” said Fontanos.

Tarek Zeidan, executive director of Helem, the oldest LGBTQ rights group in Lebanon, on Friday during a WhatsApp interview from Beirut cited the “scandalous double standard at how the same police dealt with the Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.”

“This
was a huge eye opener,” said Zeidan.

OutRight
Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern echoed Zeidan in a
statement to the Blade.

“Can
you imagine how Black Lives Matter activists would have been treated if they
attacked the Capitol,” she said. “Without a doubt, Wednesday’s events
confirmed America’s double standard when it comes to race, again and again
giving white people special rights.”

“The incoming Congress, president-elect and all of us must do better,” added Stern. “If the U.S. doesn’t respect human rights and democracy at home, we don’t have a leg to stand on internationally.”

Ahmed
el-Hady, a queer Egyptian activist who lives in New York, during an interview
with the Blade on Friday said the “biggest white militia in the United
States is the police.” El-Hady added law enforcement’s response to the
siege was not a surprise.

“It wasn’t really surprising who has privilege in this country,” he said.

Sally Goldner — a veteran
transgender, bisexual and pansexual activist in the Australian city of
Melbourne, in an email to the Blade said she watched the siege “with
feelings of shock, sadness, disbelief and also feeling overwhelmed in a sense
of feeling deluged.” Goldner, like el-Hady and others, also raised the
issue of privilege in the U.S.

“I suppose people with all the privilege — in the case of the terrorists who stormed the Capitol, being cisgender, white, predominantly male and presumably heterosexual feel so threatened at the idea of losing power and privilege as they attempt an insurrection,” said Goldner.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the world leaders who condemned the siege that began as members of Congress were certifying the Electoral College results that confirmed the election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Trump supporters marched to the Capitol after the outgoing president spoke at the “Save America Rally” on the Ellipse.

The “Save America Rally” on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021 before supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Brian
Sicknick, a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Department, died on Thursday
after rioters attacked him with a fire extinguisher during the siege.

Another
Capitol Police officer shot and killed a Trump supporter outside the U.S. House
of Representatives chamber. Three other people died of “medical
emergencies” during the siege.

The Metropolitan Police Department on Thursday announced on Twitter that it has so far arrested 68 people, recovered six firearms and two pipe bombs in connection with the siege. CNN reported the Justice Department has charged 13 people, including an Arkansas man who was photographed sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)’s desk.

Social media users continue to identify rioters once pictures of them inside the Capitol go online.

“The mob assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 shocked the world,” ILGA World Executive Director André du Plessis told the Blade on Friday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human
Rights Michelle Bachelet on
Thursday in a
statement
said the siege “demonstrated clearly the destructive impact
of sustained, deliberate distortion of acts, and incitement to violence and
hatred by political leaders.”

“Allegations of electoral
fraud have been invoked to try to undermine the right to political
participation. We are encouraged to see that the process has continued in spite
of serious attempts to disrupt it,” added the former Chilean president. “We
call on leaders from across the political spectrum, including the President of
the United States, to disavow false and dangerous narratives, and encourage
their supporters to do so as well. We note with dismay the serious threats and
destruction of property faced by media professionals yesterday. We support
calls from many quarters for a thorough investigation into Wednesday’s events.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the
independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ issues, echoed Bachelet.

“The attack on the Capitol
will hopefully be the last on (sic) a series of acts systematically destined to
undermine the respect for human rights, the rule of law and the separation of
powers,” said Madrigal-Borloz on Thursday in a tweet.

Siege ‘will forever be a stain’ on US

Former U.S. Ambassador to the
Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster in a statement to the Blade
noted the U.S. “has been the beacon of democracy that other nations
admire.”

“The images of the assault
on our democracy and our Capitol, led by a tyrannical president, with our
government leaders inside, will forever be a stain on that beacon of democracy
by the outside world,” he said.

Brewster added the world on
Wednesday “did see our leaders stand strong against the president and the
other insurgents.”

“Our democracy was not
deterred and our Constitutional work by our leaders moved forward to certify
the electoral votes and to confirm Joe Biden as the next president and Kamala
Harris as vice president,” he told the Blade. “In challenging times
is when a democracy shows its strength. We showed that strength!”

Tamara Adrián, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Venezuela’s National Assembly, on Friday largely agreed with Brewster.

“The existence of anti-democratic elements in any level of public life can exist in any country,” Adrián told the Blade. “A democracy’s maturity and solidity, however, is measured by its institutions’ capacity to resist these claims of democracy’s destruction. The U.S. has given a lesson of institutional maturity and solidity in the face of the pretenses of democratic destabilization.”

Venezuelan Assemblywoman Tamara Adrián in D.C. in 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights