Fighting homophobia: Take The Argument Into The Communities

COMBATTING ANTI-gay prejudice and discrimination and fighting for legal reform is a vital task for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Not least it will spare those lives that are being wrecked by convictions under unjust laws – 25,000 men have been convicted over the last 20 years under laws for which there is no heterosexual equivalent!

Marc Vallee, Socialist Party National LGBT Group Convenor

We have to fight such prejudice and show that it is not acceptable for the ugly head of homophobia to be raised in our day-to-day lives.

Homophobia in the workplace, in the school, the college, at home and on the street has to be removed from our lives – but how can we achieve this?

Members of the Socialist Party LGBT Group have fought for legal reforms, from the fight for an equal age of consent to getting rid of Section 28. On its own, however, legal reform is insufficient.

The Race Relations Act was passed in 1967, yet racial prejudice still exists today.

The Socialist Party believes that prejudice is an intrinsic part of the capitalist system. Capitalism’s ideology is advanced to justify the privileged existence of an elite at the expense of the majority and thrives on the inequalities in society which it creates.

At times of economic and social crisis, sections of the capitalist establishment try to divert attention away from the way their system operates. By claiming society’s “moral disintegration” or that “people from outside are eroding our traditional way of life”, they seek to create a reactionary climate of opinion out of which to gain support.

Peter Tatchell and other members of gay rights group Outrage, who disrupted the Church of England’s General Synod protesting at the Church’s “withdrawing” the appointment of a gay bishop, help highlight this kind of reactionary opinion of the capitalist system.

Church of England bishops, who sit in the House of Lords, are probably one of the most reactionary sections of the establishment and have voted for anti-gay laws time and again, and should have their hypocrisy exposed.

New threats

NONETHELESS, more important to working-class LGBT people than whether or not the CofE promotes one of its own lower-ranking managers to bishop is the impending introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations.

These new regulations would allow religious organisations (and other employers claiming to have a particular religious ethos or belief) to “exclude people” on the grounds of their sexual orientation from working for them.

How many hundreds of thousands of working-class people work for “religious organisations” in this country? This could mean the lesbian teacher or the gay cleaner in a ‘religious’ school or charity could find themselves out of a job for being gay!

A mass campaign of LGBT working-class people, linking up with all sections of the trade union movement, is needed to combat this kind of attack.

Taking the arguments for LGBT liberation into the trade unions and workplaces, into the schools, colleges and youth clubs, into the communities and voluntary organisations, we could rally support behind the call for genuine equality that could stop these types of attacks.

Capitalism is a system which promotes the interests of a super-rich elite at everyone else’s expense. In contrast to the capitalist system – which has a vested interest in fostering division and prejudice – a socialist society, with democratic working-class control and management of industry and society’s resources, would promote unity and co-operation.

A socialist society would be run democratically by the majority, for the majority.

Under these conditions prejudice would begin to evaporate and personal relationships would be freed from the restrictions imposed by capitalism.

A strategy to achieve lasting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liberation depends on linking the day-to-day battles against anti-gay and anti-transgender discrimination to the struggle to rebuild a mass movement for socialism and achieve a socialist society.