SEATTLE, OCCUPIED DUWAMISH TERRITORY — July 3, 2015
Hundreds of fliers with the above cartoon and a shorter version of this article were handed out at Seattle’s Pride festival and a local Shell station.
We have marriage equality at last! However, we cannot forget our loved ones still resisting homophobic laws. The U.S. government and major corporations continue to back homophobic governments around the world. Our fight for equality cannot stop at the border.
In Russia, anti-gay laws censor any positive mention of homosexuality, outlaw adoption by same-sex partners, ban transgender people from driving, block same-sex partner employee benefits, and inevitably encourage queer bashings, including murders. President Vladimir Putin even declared his intention to “cleanse” Russia of homosexuality.
Boycotting Russian vodka won’t do much. The Russian government’s largest business partner in the United States isn’t Stoli, it’s Royal Dutch Shell. Two weeks ago, Shell and Gazprom (owned by the Russian government) signed an Agreement of Strategic Cooperation. Their joint plans include a $20 billion liquefied gas facility in the Russian Arctic, an $11 billion underwater gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, possible asset swaps, and offshore drilling in the Russian Arctic — even as Shell’s “Polar Pioneer” oil rig attempts to drill in Inuit Arctic waters off Alaska. “We will be creating a global strategic partnership,” stated Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.
This helps Gazprom work around U.S. and E.U. sanctions that followed the invasion of Crimea — unsurprising, given how Shell also violated the U.N. embargoes of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. From Africa to the Arctic, Shell does not give a fuck.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government remains closely allied to the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which punishes queers with execution. The U.S. has sold $46 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia during the Obama presidency. Homophobic laws don’t happen because Putin or the King of Saudi Arabia are bad men. We’re fighting a structural homophobia which is deeply entrenched in capitalism.
Governments like Saudi Arabia and Russia get away with these atrocities because they are “petrostates,” governments running on oil money. Almost every politician and capitalist from Europe to the Port of Seattle is happy to talk about gay rights, then turn around and serve our worst oppressors.
The fossil fuel industry’s influence in Washington State is growing in several ways. Already, Boeing, BNSF Railroad (the planet’s largest shipper of coal and oil trains), pipeline companies, and oil companies operating refineries have a massive influence on state politics, preventing environmental regulations that save lives. Now the industry is proposing two oil pipelines, a new oil refinery, seven coal terminals, 11 oil-by-rail terminals, and six natural gas pipelines in the Northwest. All this would transform Washington into a petrostate, making the government even less accountable to us, like how the fossil fuel industry has come to dominate Canadian politics. Ultimately, these projects would guarantee catastrophic global warming.
Whether by climate catastrophe or anti-gay laws, oil CEOs are okay with seeing us dead.
So join the resistance to homophobic governments and their allies.