Germany’s oldest lesbian festival, “Lesbenfrühlingstreffen” (LFT) has become the subject of a sustained campaign of harassment. The event, which has been running since 1974, has been targeted on social media by transgender activists for having women-only workshops and feminist speakers. This has led to denunciations from mainstream LGBT+ organisations, a slew of articles attacking LFT and the withdrawal of funding, as Jo Bartosch reports for LGN.
The slurs will be familiar to anyone with any knowledge of the tactics of transgender activists. LFT clearly state in their organisational principles that fascists and right-wing extremists are to be excluded. Despite this very clear message embedded at the heart of LFT’s values, their decision to include lesbian feminist speakers and women-only workshops has seen them smeared as, amongst other things, racist and right-wing.
One of Germany’s most established lesbian (and latterly transgender inclusive) organisations, LesbenRing e.V., has sought to distance itself from LFT, withdrawing their offer of a workshop and releasing a statement on social media criticising LFT. Bundesverband Trans (BVT), a large transgender group, complained that LFT were perpetuating the idea that women’s spaces were under threat of invasion by transwomen. A Facebook comment from BVT, (originally in German), concluded “We demand that events like the Lesbian Spring Meeting finally show solidarity with the concerns of all LGBTIQA+ persons.” Dyke Marches across the country have also reportedly followed suit in condemnation of LFT.
On Twitter, Julia Beck who helps LFT with translation, said:
“Unfortunately people with “power” and “influence” in Germany (politicians, leaders of foundations, etc.) have publicly distanced themselves and their organizations from lesbian feminists while simultaneously pledging allegiance to these cowardly men.”
Had LesbenRing e.V.’s opted to participate they would have had a platform from which to state their case, but as with similar events in the UK and US, they opted for the ‘no debate’ stance.
LFT organisers had reached out to ‘queer feminists’, in order to offer a plurality of opinion, but their requests were refused. Had LesbenRing e.V.’s opted to participate they would have had a platform from which to state their case, but as with similar events in the UK and US, they opted for the ‘no debate’ stance.
Tactics used to undermine the event include making donations of 1 cent, to take-up organiser’s time, and bombarding LFT with harassment on social media.
For nearly half a century, women have volunteered to take LFT across Germany, choosing a new motto and place for each year. The first, was “Feminism the Theory – Lesbianism the Practice?”, this year’s is ‘Rising to the roots.’ Due to coronavirus restrictions, the event this year was due to take place online, though it was to be hosted from Bremen.
As with elsewhere in the world, decades of feminist and lesbian activism is now under threat from an online mob of aggressive misogynists. This year’s LFT is taking place from 21st – 24th May, should you wish to support LFT you can do so by buying a ticket: https://lft2021.de/tickets/