• Factivists

PinkWashing by QueerDesi

QueerDesi is a student-run organisation that aims to highlight the struggles of the LGBT+ community in the Indian subcontinent. This piece is part of a series where they endeavour to explain a new LGBT-related term each month.


The term pinkwashing takes inspiration from ‘whitewashing’.

The word doubles for both breast cancer and LGBTQ+ issues. It was first used in 1992 by Breast Cancer Action to identify companies and firms that had claimed that they supported people suffering from breast cancer and that they aimed to raise awareness while actually profiting from the disease.

In terms of LGBTQ+ rights, it outlines and highlights the army of marketing and political strategies that aim to create only the perception that the companies are LGBTQ+ friendly and progressive while actually covering up or downplaying their negative behaviour against the community.

More and more frequently, less so in India, what we see is: celebrating LGBTQ+ rights has become all the rage in media and advertising. This may seem like a clearly positive thing but it is difficult to identify whether this aids the market or the movement and what the motives are behind this advertising.

An example is companies changing their social media banners to rainbow flags during pride month, but still discriminating against LGBTQ+ candidates when hiring, or not doing anything to promote inclusivity in the workplace. Corporations try to appear ‘gay-friendly’ to increase sales, but don’t actually do anything substantial to be ‘gay- friendly’. Rainbow capitalism is easy for corporations to carry out, but it’s our responsibility to call them out on it. No one should be making money off of the LGBTQ+ community without us benefiting from it.