A bizarre conflict has been roiling the Labour Party in the U.K. for the last few weeks, involving the sexuality of giraffes.
It started with Dawn Butler, Labour's Shadow Secretary for Women and Equalities, who delivered a speech at an awards ceremony held by the LGBTQ+ news site PinkNews. In her speech, Butler praised school curriculum that acknowledges the existence of queer people, and then added, “90% of giraffes are gay. Let's just accept people for who they are and live as our true, authentic selves. Being who you are is not a disease.”
The statement drew an intense response from Lachlan Stuart, domestic policy adviser for Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. On his Twitter account, which has since been made private, Stuart called giraffes his “favourite animal,” and explained that what Butler was referring to was actually “not gay behaviour” because “there's no romance. No courtship. No affection. No pair bonding.”
Instead, Stuart said, giraffes engage in non-consensual sexual activity to establish dominance over each other.
“It's akin to describing [the 1972 movie] Deliverance as a 'gay romance' because the effete city boys are put in their place by the locals by getting beaten and then raped,” Stuart tweeted.
He added, “I'm really sick and tired now of straight, white, male, young advisers (and that's who they all are) delivering such foolish words into the mouths of people I'm supposed to respect.”
Butler’s claim may have come from the book Biological Exuberance, by Bruce Bagemihl. In that work, Bagemihl claims that 94 percent of male giraffes show homosexual behaviour, compared to just one percent of female giraffes.
Speaking anonymously to reporters, sources close to Butler explained that she was trying to make the point that homosexuality cannot be taught or learned, and that she appreciated Stuart’s clarification.
Elsewhere in her speech, Butler criticized the government for withdrawing plans to amend the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier to correct gender markers on official documents.
“What the fuck? Once upon a time, being a working woman was contentious, once upon a time being gay was contentious,” she told the audience. “Who gives a shit? Just amend the Act already… Let's stop the bullshit. Trying to weaponise the trans issue is so dark that it's not even worth mentioning.”
She went on, “I don't want anyone in this room to be tolerated. I don't want to be tolerated as a black woman, I want to be accepted. I want everyone in this room to be accepted.”