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Holocaust Memorial Day 2022

On Holocaust Memorial Day we remember the darkest period of European history. We must never forget the Nazis’ systematic murder of 6 million Jews, as well as the imprisonment and murder of disabled people, Roma people, LGBTQ+ people, and others.

As an LGBTQ+ group, today we reflect on how the rise of Nazism led to the persecution and murder of our community. Through the 1930s LGBTQ+ people, especially gay and bi men and trans women, were targetted for internment and murder, while some were subjected to forced castration.

After the war, many LGBTQ+ people were re-imprisoned as they had, by their existence, violated existing criminal law. People who had survived the horrors of the camps, including starvation, forced labour, and medical experimentation aimed at ‘curing’ them, were sent to prison.

Homophobia, transphobia, and antisemitism have been entangled since the rise of Nazism. One of the world’s first centres of research and healthcare related to gender and sexuality was Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin.

The fact that Magnus Hirschfeld was Jewish did not go unnoticed by the Nazis, who explicitly singled him out as “the most dangerous Jew in Germany” and called him ‘a public danger’.

The image of a Nazi public book burning is well-known, but it is less well known that the books being burned in 1933 were the collected research of Hirschfeld’s Institute, much of it explicitly about endocrinology and trans health care.

The Nazis made an explicit link between Jewishness and advancing rights for LGBTQ+ people, and used queerphobia and antisemitism to reinforce each other. One does not have to look far today to see the connection between antisemitism and transphobia in today’s rising far right.

We have reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of pride and resistance, but it is essential we remember its origins and the solidarity with all marginalised people it demands.