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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 May 2007

Socialist Party LGBT meeting

Homophobia: it's not over

This year sees the fortieth anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of gay sex between men in England and Wales. The Socialist Party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) meeting was an opportunity to discuss what struggles have been won so far in the fight for liberation and which are still ongoing.

Tom Penman, Socialist Party LGBT group

Some people in the LGBT rights movement have proclaimed that homophobia is, to quote campaign group Stonewall, "so over". A recent headline of the Pink Paper claimed "Equality at Last!" when referring to a recently passed law banning discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Tony Blair has tried to claim LGBT equality as part of his legacy.

Greg Randall introduced the morning session, showing that LGBT equality has not yet been achieved.

Some people in the LGBT rights movement have proclaimed that homophobia is, to quote campaign group Stonewall, "so over". A recent headline of the Pink Paper claimed "Equality at Last!" when referring to a recently passed law banning discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Tony Blair has tried to claim LGBT equality as part of his legacy.

Many LGBT workers report that they face harassment and homophobia at work, 49% not revealing their sexuality to co-workers for fear of abuse. Anti-discrimination measures taken by local councils and companies are often there to "tick the box for equality" rather than fight discrimination.

Neither do we have legal equality. For example, religious organisations are allowed by law to discriminate in employment. This could be a growing problem as more local services are handed over to religious voluntary groups. The religious right is also mobilising in Britain, while the BNP continues to push homophobia.

LGBT people are fighting back though. When right-wing religious groups organised a demonstration outside parliament, demanding that LGBT legal rights should be voted down, anti-hate counter protesters arrived through word of mouth.

In the afternoon we discussed our own LGBT work including the continuing campaign against homophobic bullying and our work at Pride marches across the country. A new steering committee was elected with Greg Randall as group convenor. The meeting thanked Marc Vallee for his years of hard work as the previous convenor.

There is a growing international outlook amongst LGBT campaigners with attacks against Pride marches in Poland and Russia being widely reported. The Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) has been at the forefront in fighting for LGBT rights in Poland, Russia, Israel and Brazil.

A law banning discussion of homosexuality in all state schools is being pushed through parliament by the Polish government. The text of a letter to the Polish embassy explaining our opposition to the law was agreed (see below). For the CWI and the Socialist Party LGBT liberation is an integral part of the struggle for socialism.

The Polish Ambassador
Embassy of the Republic of Poland
47 Portland Place
London W1B 1JH

It has come to our attention that the new Education Bill currently before the Polish parliament contains a clause outlawing the discussion of homosexuality in schools, colleges and other educational facilities. We have also noted a series of discriminatory statements by Poland's junior education minister, Miroslaw Orzechowski. In a recent declaration by Mr Orzechowski regarding the Education Bill, for instance, he is reported to have said that the new law is designed to 'punish whoever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments'.

Do you, Mr Ambassador, and all those at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland endorse this bigoted view? Or do you understand that homosexuality is not a deviance but perfectly natural? We await your reply with interest.

In the meantime, we wish to record the strongest possible protest at the views expressed by Mr Orzechowski.

Legislation such as that included in the Education Bill can only alienate and damage young people in their formative years. Unless sexuality can be openly discussed and understood without prejudice, lesbian, gay and bisexual children will be open to abuse and bullying, leading to a lack of educational attainment as well as personal torment, sometimes with tragic consequences.

We therefore demand that the offensive clause in the Education Bill is withdrawn.

Finally, such legislation, backed up by inflammatory remarks by leading government officials, legitimises prejudice, discrimination and violence against minorities, in this case lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We have noted with alarm the marked increase in reports of physical attacks on gays in Poland perpetrated by far-right thugs.

Are you and your staff content with this developing climate of fear among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in your country?

The Socialist Party LGBT Group resolves to raise these issues as widely as possible and to assist in the developing campaign by human and gay rights organisations globally.

Yours in protest,
Socialist Party Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Group

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In The Socialist 31 May 2007:

No to McJobs

G8 Summit protests

Protest against the G8 leaders

Protest at arrest and prosecution in Bolivia

Socialist Party campaigns

Campaign brings victory against cuts

Local campaign successes show effective leadership in action

National Shop Stewards Network founding conference

International socialist news and analysis

Southern Ireland general election: Smaller parties squeezed

Wales - Labour rule under threat

Talking about the 'real world' at Wales TUC

Socialist Party news and analysis

A double bonanza for big businesss

Fight against destructive school policies

Stop and question: A dangerous kite to fly

Unhealthy surpluses on NHS underspend

Socialist Party feature

Defend and expand public housing

War and terrorism

Refugee camp siege compounds Lebanon's deep political crisis

Protesters cleared

Marxist analysis: history

The Merthyr Rising 1831

Socialist Party LBGT

Repression of Gay Pride in Moscow

Homophobia: it's not over

Socialist Party workplace news

Hull UNISON takes historic step

Remploy try to close factories


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