On Saturday Neo-Nazi Group the National Socialist Movement attempted to disrupt Detroit’s Pride Parade. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center the group is one of the largest neo-Nazi organisations in the US who are known for its ‘theatrical and provocative protests’. This weekend they certainly lived up to this when they marched close to the parade flying Nazi flags and wearing armbands emblazoned with swastikas they marched chanting anti-gay slurs through a bullhorn while using the Nazi salute.  

Given the history between these two groups the presence of Nazis at an LGBTQ event is inherently violent and threatens all those in attendance especially when those Nazis are armed with automatic weapons. While the Nazi Party and the holocaust was largely directed towards the Jewish community they were by no means the only persecuted group. When the Nazi Party were elected in 1933, they quickly banned gay organisations and books about homosexuality were among the many burned. Homosexuals who had previously joined the Nazi Party were quickly murdered. The Gestapo also began compiling a list of homosexuals who were then forced to conform to ‘German Norms’ via conversion therapy. This therapy included forced sexual acts performed on and by female sex slaves compiled of Jewish women and Lesbians once a week the ‘treatment’ also included regular beatings and segregation.  

Between 1933 and 1945 100,000 men were arrested on suspicion of being homosexual and 50,000 of those were charged and sentenced to imprisonment. Most of these men were lucky and spent time in regular prisons while and estimated 5,000 to 15,000 men were sent to concentration camps where most of them were killed. The men were identified by a pink triangle on their sleeve and were subjected to extreme cruelty including the boiling off of testicles, were regularly beaten and raped with objects including 25 cm wooden poles. The guards used homosexuals as target practice aiming at the pink triangles the men were forced to wear.  

This aspect of the Nazis torment was largely ignored until the 1980’s when governments finally began acknowledging the horrors homosexuals faced. I was not taught about this treatment in school, college or university but instead by the band Weezer when I googled the meaning of their song Pink Triangle. This is largely due to an unwillingness to be compared to the Nazis by other Governments including Britain who also viewed homosexuality as a crime and castrated or imprisoned those found guilty including war hero Alan Turing in 1952. Germany did not acknowledge or apologise for the treatment of homosexuals during the Nazi era until 2002.

Given the incredibly violent history of the Nazis I cannot understand why the city of Detroit permitted this march on the same day as Pride; Yes the US are committed to freedom of speech but there are restrictions due to safety. These restrictions include not being able to shout fire in crowded areas where there is no fire as this risks people being hurt in the rush to escape a non-existent threat. These common sense limitations should have extended to this march which is a clear threat to those enjoying Pride. Unfortunately the city decided to allow this aggression and facilitated it by providing police protection for the violent white supremacist group this despite the disgusting history of Nazis towards the gay community.  Thankfully most people attending Pride were able to enjoy the event without being subjected to hatred and no incidences of violence were reported.