Queer Remembrance Day

Nearly 300 lesbians and gay men attended a Ceremony of Remembance at the national war memorial, the Cenotaph, in London, on Sunday, 2nd. November. They were commemorating lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who died fighting Nazism and who perished in the concentration camps.

The ceremony was organised by OutRage!, who declared Sunday, 2nd. November “Queer Remembrance Day”.

The keynote speaker was 74-year-old Sharley McLean, a lesbian who fled to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939. Her gay uncle, Kurt Bach, was arrested by the Gestapo in a gay bar in Berlin in 1937, and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

After the speeches, there was a minute’s silence. Then dozens of pink wreaths and bouquets were laid on the Cenotaph.

The commemoration was denounced by the ex-services association, the British Legion, as “distasteful” and “offensive”, and “bound to offend many former soldiers”.

Gay war veterans are never acknowledged by the ex-services association or by the official state-sponsored Remembrance Day ceremony. At least 250,000 gay people served in the British Armed Forces during 1939-45. The current ban on homosexuals in the military is an insult to their service and sacrifice.

The huge media coverage of Queer Remembrance Day has raised awareness about the contribution of lesbian and gay service personnel to the defeat of Nazism, and about the queer holocaust that has been suppressed by revisionist historians.

Coinciding with a campaign by the German SPD and Green parties, OutRage! has written to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, urging him to:

  • Apologise for the Nazi persecution of gay people
    — successive German governments have always refused to apologise
  • Compensate gay holocaust survivors
    — gays are denied compensation on the grounds that they were ‘common criminals’
  • Remedy the deficit in gay survivors’ pensions
    — the service of SS guards is added to their pension entitlement; but the years spent in the camps by gays is dededucted from their pensions
  • Put on trial the Nazi doctors who were involved in barbaric experiments on gay concentration-camp prisoners
    — none of the doctors was indicted at Nuremberg (N├╝rnberg), or has been since