For socialist policies to end oppression
Rachel Cox, Oxford Socialist Party
The situation facing LGBTQ+ people – denoting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and other identities – today is dire.
The Tories’ attempts to deflect the anger at the cost-of-living crisis with divide-and-rule politics have real effects. They blocked the limited Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would have given the right to gender self-identity. New attacks are being prepared against LGBTQ+ school students and teachers. And in the US and across the world, there is a ratcheting up of violent rhetoric by various politicians and in the media.
One third of LGBTQ+ people don’t feel safe walking down the street holding their partner’s hand. 40% of trans people have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months.
With these high stakes, we need united struggle for socialist politics.
It’s true that we managed to win reforms in the past. But reforms, including legal and more available resources, aren’t enough to fix the fundamentally broken capitalist system.
Take housing. LGBTQ+ people are 20% less likely to own their own homes. And, especially for young people, our chances of being homeless are at least double the base rate. Double! This is on top of the existing housing crisis facing all workers. Personally, I have been denied housing by bigoted landlords in Oxford.
Capitalism barely sustains the majority of us, while a lucky few at the top make massive profits at our expense. Any gains we make under this system can be taken away to maximise profits. Division and oppression are inherent in capitalism.
There is a rich history of LGBTQ+ campaigners who saw this and fought to overturn the structures that oppressed them and us, in many cases in explicitly socialist ways. They fought to dismantle the systems of oppression and exploitation, and build something new in their place. Reforms were won out of fear from the bosses of more radical change, but gains won under capitalism will come under attack when it suits them.
A few LGBTQ+ people rising to the top of the hierarchy and who don’t challenge the capitalist system is far from the same as freedom for all. So why should we continue to uphold this vile system that is willing to try and sell more products with rainbow logos one month a year and is prepared to attack our rights the rest of it?
We need to build fighting socialist organisations to defend and win LGBTQ+ rights. We need political Prides that are non-corporate and focused on the fight to defend ourselves, as well as being celebratory. They need to be tied into the trade union movement to fight alongside other workers – fighting for mass housing, democratic control in workplaces and fully nationalised healthcare. And we need to fight for socialism – a democratic system based on cooperation as an alternative to capitalist division.