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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

26th February 2010

LGBT Rights and Animal Politics

Posted by: Craig Young

Recently, Sydney Mardi Gras blocked an Animal Liberation New South Wales float from parade participation. What is the connection between the LGBT and animal rights movements?

yay.jpgFor the first generation of nineteenth century lesbian and gay activists, their utopian socialist morality combined sexual freedom, communitarian socialism, green politics, anti-imperialism, pacifism and womens suffrage…alongside ethical vegetarianism and animal rights politics. One such exemplary figure was Edward Carpenter, the nineteenth century Sheffield  gay utopian socialist author and activist.

Marxism gained ascendancy within socialist politics, refocusing it on class inequality, industrial relations and trade union militancy, though, relegating sexual freedom and animal welfare to liberal legislative reformists for most of the twentieth century, until the rise of the sixties New Left, which resurrected antiwar politics, feminism, ethnic minority civil rights and liberationist politics, socialist and anarchist militancy, LGBT rights…and a newly assertive animal liberation politics, especially after Australian philosopher Peter Singer wrote Animal Liberation in 1976. Apart from ethical vegetarianism, factory farming and consumer product testing, medical and scientific animal experimentation became one primary focus of the new movement.The animal rights movement varies from sedate animal anti-cruelty rescue providers to antiwhaling activist advocates of direct action to some instances of violence, harrassment and intimidation directed against scientists involved in animal experimentation. And therein lies the rub for many otherwise supportive LGBT folk.

How can we be sure that protease inhibitors, anticancer medication and gender reassignment drug testing weren’t tested on animals first? In this instance, then, LGBT human rights need to come first, particularly if it involves our community’s most vulnerable members- LGBT people with life-threatening illnesses and transitioning trans people. Granted, factory farming, endangered species advocacy and domestic companion animal/pet anticruelty legislation are subject to widespread public support and probably number substantial LGBT individuals amongst that population. Some animal experimentation is neccessary, but some animal causes can and should command support from amenable members of our community. However, for obvious reasons, I cannot ethically adopt an absolutist position that calls for an end to all animal experimentation and I unequivocally condemn ‘animal rights’ terrorism moreover.


Sheila Rowbotham: Edward Carpenter: London: Verso: 2008.

Peter Singer: Animal Liberation: New York: Avon: 1976.

Bruce Bagemihl: Biological Exuberance: New York: St Martins Press: 1999.

Tags: Politics

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 anthony // Mar 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

    firstly its animal liberation NSW not the ALF.
    I am gay and i am also a vegan ,being in two minority groups i can see the link . We LGBT have had to deal with oppression ,harassment etc ,if you were to delve into the ways in which animals are exploited in the millions on this earth you would see the link and hopefully have some empathy for them.
    Did you know there is actually a scientific argument against animal testing ,from scientists,that transferring results obtained from animals to humans is misleading and simply useless. I could go on but ill add some websites .

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