Tom Baldwin, Bristol South Socialist Party
Socialist Party members joined thousands of others on the Bristol Pride march in a vibrant display of support for LGBTQ+ rights.
The organisers’ website rightly stated “Pride is a protest!” and was about using “our political voice to amplify, maintain and further LGBT+ human rights”. However, in the week before the event they put out a statement saying political parties would not be allowed to participate in the march as organisations. They cited “party leaders and MPs who are unwilling or unable to stand up for their LGBT+ constituents and drawn into bad-faith rhetoric, partially about the rights of trans people.”
That description is accurate for the main parties. Hypocrisy and divisive politics are meat and drink for capitalist politicians. However, banning them does nothing to take up and challenge those ideas. And it ignores the fact that the Socialist Party is completely different in our approach.
We decided to send the organisers an open letter defending our right to participate in Pride and putting on record our consistent support and campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights. We pointed out that “We fight for the right to self-identify of trans and non-binary people – and also the funding of the public services and resources needed to live all our lives fully.”
We also made clear the importance of socialist ideas in the struggle for LGBTQ+ liberation, saying: “We stand for a socialist society, based on collective ownership and not on profit for a tiny minority. We believe that this is the only way in which the oppression and exploitation of LGBTQ+ people can be ended for good.”
We’ve consistently participated in Bristol Pride over many years. Our political, campaigning approach has stood in contrast to the growing commercialisation of Pride events and has always been welcomed.
That proved to be the case again on the day. We didn’t have a single person who questioned our presence. Our slogan of ‘Tories Out – build a socialist alternative’ was widely supported and every leaflet we had was taken. We joined the march behind our banner emblazoned with ‘Pride not profit’ and ‘Socialist change to end oppression’. We were greeted with applause and raised fists in solidarity.
The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights is political and socialist politics are vital to winning it. The Socialist Party will continue spreading the message of socialism and solidarity on Pride marches, as we do every day – on the streets, in the workplaces, in the trade unions, in the communities and on campus.