Fearless knowledge: PRIDE is just as important this year
PRIDE is here, and the rainbow flag is waving over UiO's buildings again. Although the physical marking of PRIDE has had to be cancelled this year, the fight for equal rights for all remains equally important.
Usually, we mark PRIDE, among other things, by participating in the big parade through the streets of Oslo under the banner «Fearless Knowledge». We do this because we fully believe that prejudice, hatred and discrimination can only be met with knowledge and commitment. That is why universities and colleges are important players under PRIDE.
«The feeling of being part of something larger» is the theme for Oslo PRIDE this year. The corona pandemic has awakened that feeling in all of us, and we have stood together in a challenging time with calmness, patience and collective understanding. I wish for the same collective understanding and sense of community in the fight for LGBT people's rights and situation. How a society treats and describes what may seem foreign is important to all of us. It embodies a society's intrinsic values.
Therefore, it is frightening that developments in the situation of LGBT people in several European countries are moving in the opposite direction of what they should be. In line with the frightening trend in a more authoritarian direction in, for example, Hungary, we see that harassment of sexual minorities becomes part of populist propaganda and ugly rhetoric. The same trend is visible in Poland. Here the word «gender» is used about LGBT, and it has become a common designation for everything that is un-Polish, anti-Polish and imported from the west.
Knowledge is the key. That was the understanding when UiO established The International Summer School just after World War II. The goal was international peace and the method was to cultivate community and understanding of other perspectives and cultures. We need strong, value-secure universities that advance and spread knowledge; that are allowed to spread knowledge - and that without the threat of being silenced by authorities or press groups. Authoritarian regimes exert pressure on both freedom of speech and academic freedom. This makes it more difficult to reach the rest of society with fact-based knowledge of, for example, LGBT. This in turn, makes it easier for the authorities to establish an enemy image. We must stand together to fight this!
We will miss the community the PRIDE parade provides; where UiO's students and staff mark the city with all the colours of the rainbow. We will not least miss the students at The International Summer School who have contributed with energy and determination. This parade has in many ways been part of their welcome, providing a venue where Norwegian society's values are on public display.
Of course, and regardless of the current odds, we will also this year be actively participating in the festivities. Join the digital celebration of PRIDE!
ALL IS LOVE
PS: UiO is pleased that we have many researchers and teachers working on LHBTQ themes, gender and sexuality, see overview (Norwegian).