World-famous LGBT activist Stuart Milk told an audience in Liverpool that fighting the rise of the far right is essential to protect LGBT rights.
By Jen Stout
Stuart Milk, who is the nephew of the late civil rights leader Harvey Milk, spoke at John Moores University last week to mark the end of LGBT History Month.
Reflecting on the recent rise of far-right and fascist movements across Europe, and the election of populist Donald Trump in the US, Milk said on Thursday that people must take a stand to protect LGBT people when their rights are increasingly under attack.
“We must not allow any one group to take us back”, Milk said, referring to US President Trump’s recent executive order revoking the rights of transgender school students.
Harvey Milk, Stuart’s uncle, was one of the first openly gay officials in the US. Elected to the San Fracisco Board of Governors in 1977, he was assassinated the following year. His fight for gay rights was featured in the 2008 Holywood blockbuster ‘Milk’, starring Sean Penn.
Stuart Milk, who travels the world campaigning with the Harvey Milk Foundation, said: “I’ve had urine, eggs, all kinds of things thrown at me, they can do that. They can send bullets to my uncle. They can push [Hungarian activist] Milán Rózsa in front of a train. You can stop the messenger but you can’t stop the message.”
The rise of far-right movements such as Hungary’s ‘Jobbik’ is a particular threat to LGBT people and other minorities, Milk argued.
Despite having faced riot police and water cannons at pride marches across the world, Milk said “nothing was scarier” than his experience in Budapest, Hungary. “When you walk down Andrassy Boulevard for the Pride parade, everyone closes their blinds. Shops close up. Nobody waves back. It’s that silence that’s so damaging. As Albert Einstein said – it’s not those that do evil, but those that watch in silence.”
Milk made a gift of rare US postage stamps featuring his uncle to the university, received by LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Edward Harcourt.