Meet Viktor Zimmermann, the director of the Gay Homeland Foundation and a man with a vehement plan to establish a gay-led country.
LGBT rights have come a long way in recent years, but to say that non-hetero people still don't have it easy would be an understatement. On the 3rd of September, one of two men said he and his partner they were aggressively kicked off a London bus after boarding through the wrong set of doors, last weekend homophobes attacked Pride committee members in Northern Ireland and on Monday a Burnley footballer had to revisit tweets he popped off in 2012 – calling for gay people to "burn" – after the FA charged him with misconduct over them.
In short, things can be rough. Some people think that the solution is to keep fighting tirelessly for equality. Gay separatist organisation the Gay Homeland Foundation has proposed a different strategy: its members believe that the marginalisation of gay culture is an inevitable consequence of societies where the majority of people are straight. They advocate the creation of an all-gay state. This might seem a little radical, but as far as they're concerned, it's the only feasible solution. I got in touch with the group's executive officer Viktor Zimmerman to find out why he believes that such a drastic move is required.
VICE: Hi Viktor, why do you think that gay people require their own homeland?
Viktor Zimmerman: We need a cultural and political centre, where we can develop new, better ways of gay living that are more suited to our nature. Bringing gay people together in a creative and affirmative environment will release a tremendous energy. Thousands of gay artists, writers, sculptors, filmmakers and songwriters will be brought together in one spot. There would be no more cultural oppression from the hetero; all the public spaces would be decorated with gay artwork.
A gay city-state would also become a safe haven for millions of gay people. Many gay people on this planet live in dangerous circumstances; their physical security is threatened on a daily basis, their jobs are insecure, and their families threaten them or try to force-marry them. Due to strict immigration restrictions, these people simply cannot relocate to another country. A gay country would be a very good option for these gay folks.
So the purpose of your organisation is to secure a safe space for gay people, where gay cultural norms apply?
Yes, our purpose is to establish a free, independent and democratic gay state. We strive to initiate one or more self-administrated settlements for gay people, and look to promote their economic, cultural and political development.
Why focus on a gay homeland rather than improving LGBT rights in the nations that already exist?
There's no contradiction between the existence of a gay state and the improvement of gay rights in various existing nations; we can have both. Gay people need to come together, socialise and exchange ideas. If there is to be genuine gay high culture, we will need more than just local gay bars, two to three gay bookstores and a gay pride march once a year. This is not a question of human rights; it's is an issue of a six-percent minority population being dispersed in an unaccommodating cultural environment.
We also need to remember that human rights can be taken away as easily as they were granted. All the progress in gay rights that has been achieved has only taken place in the context of liberal democracies, and it has been a very difficult process that is still unfinished. We need a place where gay people can move to from hostile countries. The few refugees accepted by the US, Canada and the EU are but a lucky few; the vast majority are refused admittance.
Where are you planning to set up the homeland?
Ideally, it should be somewhere where there is sufficiently cheap and habitable land available in a warm climate by the seaside. There is plenty of suitable land in South America, and its political circumstances seem favourable. A friendly Buddhist country in southeast Asia might be a strategically good choice, too.
Realistically, we will take whatever comes and try to make the best of it. Even artificial seagoing constructions are not out of the question. They are currently being developed by an organisation called the Seasteading Institute, which is heavily funded by Peter Thiel, the gay guy who made a fortune by co-founding Paypal.
What's your long-term plan of action for establishing the state?
The first step is the formation of a non-territorial sovereign entity – a state without a territory. The entity would resettle gay refugees and help them with housing and jobs. Economic activities will be essential at this stage in order to give people employment and gain revenues for the security-related expenses. A gay development bank would help to establish small- and medium-size businesses to empower our people economically.
We will then strive to obtain political recognition from as many other states as possible. Such recognition would be very helpful in many kinds of activities: transit of refugees, international financial transactions, purchase of security-related equipment. To facilitate international recognition, we will use the legal precedence of the Order of Malta.
Isn't that a state that continued to exist after it lost its territory?
Yes, its sovereignty is still recognised by over 100 foreign governments. The next step would be taking a long-term lease on a moderate-sized territory from an existing country. The territory will be used to establish a settlement on conditions of extraterritoriality. Legally, it would still remain the territory of the host country, but we could administrate it according to our own laws.
Would any straight people be allowed to live there?
There will be straight people living in the gay territories, but their numbers will be limited and they will be not in charge. Dependents of citizens – underage children or helpless parents – will of course be admitted.
How would you ensure that the population wouldn't dwindle?
Immigration. We all know how gay babies are made – there are millions of them being born into this world year by year, without any effort on our side. All we need is for a fraction of them to pack their stuff together and move to the gay state.
Finally, how realistic do you think it is that you'll achieve your goal?
Legally, the foundation of the gay state is viable. There have been precedents for the establishment of new states via treaties, such as the creation of the Vatican state, and there have been multiple legal precedents for the peaceful acquisition of land. There have also been precedents for international recognition of non-territorial sovereign entities, such as the Order of Malta. We are confident that one day gay people will have territorial control over a sovereign territory.
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