This past week we celebrated Zero Discrimination Day, a day to celebrate the right of everyone to exist freely and to promote inclusion and peace. But this begs the questions: what is discrimination? And what isn’t?

Discrimination is unfair and prejudicial treatment against a group of people because they belong to a particular social group. This could include not hiring someone because they are Black, not voting for someone because they are a woman, or not allowing someone to adopt children because they are gay.

All of the above examples are of marginalised social groups? But can you discriminate against someone from a privileged group, such as a white, straight man? Legally speaking: yes.

So then, is it discrimination that we have a Black history month, an international women’s day (which we’ll be writing on next week!), or LGBT+ Pride, but we don’t have the same things for white people, men or straight people?

Is it discrimination that we don’t celebrate straight pride in the UK?

The short answer: no.

As one of the young people in the Q42 Group said this week: ‘it’s all about power. Who has had the power historically? Have we ever had a Black Prime Minister? No. Why? Because white people have more power.’

Straight people have had social power throughout history. It has never been illegal to be straight, people aren’t murdered for being straight, parents do not disown their children for being straight. Meanwhile, most forms of media celebrate straight people and their relationships, and almost all institutions (from schools to churches) celebrate straight identities and people as more normal and valuable than LGBT+ identities. While individual straight people may face discrimination on the rare occasion (not getting a job designed for an LGBT+ person, for example), overall they have more power and opportunity in society as a whole.

And this is why there shouldn’t be a straight pride. And yet, some people have tried it. The black and white pride flag was designed as a symbol of straight pride. But it wasn’t really about celebrating straight people, but more about criticising LGBT+ people. It was created to make a mockery of the need for LGBT+ Pride, and promote ignorant and hateful ideas toward LGBT+ people. This is a hate symbol.

Later, a rainbow ‘A’ was added to this flag to represent ‘straight allies.’ But is it really allyship if you’re waving around a flag that has such an explicitly homophobic history? And is it really allyship to wave your own flag instead of one of the many flags that represent the community you’re supposedly promoting and supporting? After all, one of the key areas of LGBT+ activism is to improve visibility of LGBT+ people. This is why we need the rainbow Pride flag. We don’t need a flag for straight people, not even the allies.

Of course, there have been actual straight pride events. And in each example, these have been used less to promote and celebrate straight people, and much more to promote and celebrate homophobia, sexism and racism. These events and movements are designed around hate, not tolerance or liberation, and serve no purpose to bring about a more equal and fair world.

And so, as we celebrate zero discrimination, not only this week but all year round, let’s remember which social groups in our society face real and genuine discrimination. And when people from privileged groups claim to be victims of discrimination, ask the question our LGBT+ young person knew instinctively: who has the power?

Spread the word : )
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