Anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Ireland employ tactics of US far-right, expert says

According to an expert, groups who staged protests against LGBTQ+ books and drag events in Ireland share the same tactics employed by US groups like the Proud Boys.

This article is about anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Ireland and the US. In the photo, a man waving a
Image: Via Shutterstock - Johnny Silvercloud

According to a senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the recent protests against LGBTQ+ books and events that have taken place across Ireland are an import from the US, where the strategies that these groups employ first emerged.

In recent months, there have been numerous reports of far-right protestors entering public libraries in Ireland demanding the removal of LGBTQ+ reading material. During such anti-LGBTQ+ protests, library staff have been subjected to intimidation, harassment and verbal abuse, while demonstrators also filmed them without their consent.

A recent example took place earlier in July at the Tralee Library, Co Kerry, where far-right protestors stormed the building while a drag storytime event was taking place, leaving children and staff terrified and upset.

The event featured drag performers Butch Chastity and Miggeldy Bubbles, and was part of the lineup for Kingdom Pride month. Upon entering the room, demonstrators started shouting that it was “immoral to read filth to children” for several minutes before Gardaí intervened.

As reported by the Irish Examiner, Cork drag queen Candy Warhol revealed that this was not the only incident to take place during Kingdom Pride. While she was performing at a drag brunch three days after the first episode, one solo protester showed up and disrupted the event.

“We had a protestor pay for a ticket to come in,” Candy Warhol explained. “She sat there, waited until we got on stage and then started protesting. She was going table to table and calling everyone a disgrace, asking why they were there, saying they were encouraging us. A table complained and she was taken out by security and she was kicking and screaming and throwing things off the tables.”

The drag queen recounted another episode she witnessed last year, when a drag storytime event hosted by Mayo Pride and Tetulia Bookstore was targeted by a far-right group, leaving all attendees highly distressed. Accompanied by fellow queens Panti Bliss, Annie Queeries and Lavender, Candy Warhol was confronted by aggressive protesters who started shouting at them.

Speaking about the incident, Candy Warhol said: “These men and women were literally centimetres from my face, screaming homophobic and transphobic abuse, and it was extremely sexual stuff they were screaming.

“All these protesters are saying we’re the ones sexualising children, but they were screaming profanities and screaming about sex acts, at children. It was crazy,” she added.

According to the aforementioned senior analyst, Ciarán O’Connor, whose research focuses on online misinformation, hate and extremism, the tactics that these groups are employing in protests against the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland are the same that first emerged in the US.

“It’s a tactic of US groups like Proud Boys, the far-right group, to show up at libraries and to target Drag Queens and LGBTQ+ events aimed at children,” he explained.

“In the US, we’ve seen traditionally Christian groups, but also increasingly explicitly right-wing communities, co-opting this suspicion of LGBTQ+ people.”

He added, “The use of the word ‘groomer’ and the very damaging, serious claim that LGBTQ+ communities are somehow fostering a societal tolerance for paedophilia originated with a lot of US groups with a particular tactic of appearing at libraries and bookstores.”

Another thing he noted is that aggression and violent behaviour are also part of their strategy. He explained, “Social media algorithms are geared to the sharing of sensationalist, highly emotive content and the organisers of these campaigns lean into that to expand the reach of their campaign. That’s core to potential recruitment opportunities and also monetisation: you’ll frequently see them posting links to donation platforms when they share video.”

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