One of the world’s biggest arms companies just tried pushing its progressive credentials. It didn’t end well.

Pride flag with the BAE systems logo
Emily Apple

One of the world’s largest arms companies took to Twitter to try and show how progressive it is. May 17 is the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. It’s ‘a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities’ and this year’s social media campaign used the hashtag #BreakingTheSilence.

So BAE Systems took to Twitter to show its support for the day:

Except it didn’t end well for the arms company. Especially given that it’s known for supplying arms to governments that suppress and punish people from the LGBTQI+ community.

“You’re a fucking arms company”

Corporate Watch called out the company:

And Declassified journalist Phil Miller highlighted exactly why the company’s tweet is so problematic.

Blood money

Between 2015 and 2019, the company made £15bn in deals with Saudi Arabia. Its weapons were used in the deadly assault against Yemen. And despite the Court of Appeal ruling that the government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen, BAE Systems is still providing logistical support to the regime.

Speaking about this revelation, Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade stated:

UK-made fighter jets have played a key role in the devastating Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. The war has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, and, especially at this time, further military support for Saudi forces can only make it even worse.

Despite the terrible humanitarian crisis and the outbreak of COVID-19, the war is still raging. There must be a meaningful ceasefire from all sides. The suffering of Yemeni people will be made far worse by the air strikes that Saudi fighter jets are being used for.

We are in unprecedented times, and this should not be happening. Fighter jet maintenance is not essential work, whether it is for the UK or any of the human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships that BAE sells its arms to. Our common security is not advanced by these arms sales or the wars they may be used in.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is listed as the fourth most dangerous place in the world for LGBTQI+ people, where homosexuality can be punished with the death penalty or whipping.

And Saudi Arabia is just one example. BAE Systems also supplies arms to Turkey, where the government banned and attacked Pride in Istanbul.

Not in my name

Social media users expressed disgust at BAE Systems using the hashtag:

And others questioned Stonewall for working with the weapons giant:

This is not the first time the company has been called out for pinkwashing. As The Canary reported in 2019, Surrey Pride was criticised after it made the sickening decision to accept BAE Systems as its main sponsor.

BAE Systems deals in death and destruction. Its weapons are used to kill and repress people and it makes billions out of deals with regimes that are happy to murder LGBTQI+ people. No amount of pinkwashing will ever clean its blood-drenched hands.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Benson Kua and Wikimedia

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