Withdrawn participation from #oldlivesmatter campaign

The Executive Board of the EuGMS decided on September 28th to withdraw its participation in the #OldLivesMatter: A worldwide campaign against ageism, initiated by the French Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SFGG) and launched on September 14th. Our Full Board initially welcomed the idea of this global anti-ageism campaign, an issue highlighted by the experiences of older people during the COVID pandemic.

When the SFGG campaign was then fully developed, it included the hashtag above. Many of our member national societies (which make up the composition of EuGMS) agreed to participate, with our support, but some chose not to do so: whilst these societies supported the aim to combat ageism in society and in healthcare, they disagreed with the use of the hashtag #OldLivesMatter and some parts of the proposed press release, which described ageism as a form of racism and included the hashtag #AllLivesMatter: black people, young people and old people. The fact that #AllLivesMatter has come to be associated with criticism of the #BlackLivesMatter movement had not been fully appreciated by the organisers, undermining the positive intentions of this anti-ageism campaign.

Upon reflection, the EuGMS agrees with public criticism of the campaign and therefore has removed the press release from our website.

The Black Lives Matter movement started in the United States in protest against incidents of police brutality, systematic injustice and racially motivated violence against black people. Black Lives Matter is now one of the largest movements in American history and has gained traction globally. We now recognise that the appropriation of this campaign for purposes other than advocating for the protection and equal treatment of black communities should not be condoned, regardless of the positive intentions behind it.

The EuGMS opposes racism and promotes equality of health and healthcare for all, but we believe the use of this hashtag is regrettable and is unnecessary for an anti-ageism campaign, which in other forms we will continue to support.