LGBTQ Commission & Pinkwashing Event

| May 24, 2018

Dear Mayor Durkan, Council President Harrell, and Interim Director Lockhart


On behalf of GSBA, we are deeply opposed to have the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission, a Commission supported by city dollars, sponsoring the film “Pinkwashing Exposed”. This is not only a misuse of City funds but it is also aligning the City with a highly politicized, biased agenda, which is inflammatory and could be interpreted as promoting an Anti-Semitic agenda.


We understand that the LGBTQ Commission’s charge is, in part, to “provide information to the Mayor, City Council, and other City departments, offices, commissions and boards concerning issues of importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities”. We understand that this issue, in the Commission’s position, is an intent to raise an issue of concern to City representatives, but is doing so in a highly ill-considered manner. 


Regardless of concerns people have about Israel or any other country in terms of human rights abuses, we must not allow our City government to be used to promote highly political agendas without a full public discussion and clear intentionality as the purpose of why Seattle or any of our City sponsored Commissions would be taking a position on a political and controversial issue.


This feels like a repeat performance of the incident in 2012 when the city publicized a reception for a group of LGBTQ Civil Rights leaders from Israel and, after pressure from an outside group, rescinded that invitation and then found itself in the awkward position of scrambling to find a way to meet with these Israeli LGBT Civil Rights leaders. The documentary, in fact, centers itself on that conduct, which is particularly inappropriate, as this film specifically takes aim at those who criticized the LGBTQ Commission’s actions on this same topic of “pinkwashing” just a few years ago.  The current Commission’s use of City resources in this way is highly inflammatory and inappropriate.  


To be clear, we believe that one can be pro-Israel and be critical of some of its policies. At the same time, we believe that Israel policies can be criticized without being labeled anti-Semitic. We deplore the deprivation of human rights in every form, including those we have recently witnessed on the news in the last two weeks.  Regardless of what concerns people have about Israel or any other country in terms of human rights abuses, we should not allow our City government to be used to promote a position without a broader discussion.


This is not the first time our LGBTQ Commission has gone beyond the scope of its purpose and it is also concerning that the Commission on People with DisAbilities seems also to be involved with this screening at City Hall, on topics far outside its expertise and mission.  We believe the intent of both commissions may be well meaning but by advancing ideas that appear biased, our City is inadvertently endorsing an analysis not based on enough information or understanding of the complexities of these issues.



Whether or not the City should be engaged in this type of international political dialogue is a question we need to answer, but at the very least, we need to have more inclusive representation that allows for more than one viewpoint from those who have knowledge of the issue. As a city, if we are going to have a discussion about human rights, this film is an irresponsible artifact upon which to base any responsible discussion of Israel and its relationship to Palestine and Palestinians, and the City should do better.



We ask that you, as Mayor and City Council, do not endorse or list the City as a sponsor or host of this film to avoid our City from being seen as complicit in what may be interpreted as promoting anti-Semitism.




Bryan Adamson,

GSBA Public Policy Chair


Louise Chernin

GSBA President & CEO

Cc: Seattle City Councilmembers: Sally Bagshaw, Lorena González, Rob Johnson, Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant;  LGBTQ Commission Co-Chairs: Julia Ikaura Ricciardi, Jessi Murray; Katrina Sanford; DisAbilities Commission Co-Chair Shaun Bickley; DisAbilities Co-Chair Chris Tiana ObeySummer