London Pride 2007 Homophobia – it’s so not over!

Gay Pride demo 2007

Gay Pride demo 2007

AS THE lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community celebrate Pride on 30 June, has equality arrived at last, as a headline in the gay press claimed recently?

Greg Randall Socialist Party LGBT group

The legal changes of the past few years represent a step forward but the UK has had laws against racial and sexual discrimination for decades but racism and sexism still exist. Gay lobbying group Stonewall use the slogan “Homophobia: it’s so over”. The daily experience of LGBT people bear witness that it’s so not over. Studies have shown that around 40% experience prejudice at work. 407 cases involving anti-LGBT discrimination went to employment tribunals between January 2004 and September 2006.

Most LGBT people have experi-enced, or know someone who has experienced, abuse or violence on the streets. The police response to hate crimes has been described as “institutionally homophobic” by the Metropolitan Police’s own monitoring body.

To combat homophobia the gay establishment, like Stonewall, mistak-enly link up with big business. Pride London is sponsored by Ford and British Airways among others. These companies boast about their commit-ment to “fairness and equality”. Stonewall tells businesses that they will get the best from LGBT employ-ees if workers can be open about their sexuality. However, the bosses are ultimately only interested in profit margins.

Pride sponsor British Airways out-sourced its catering operations, cre-ating Gate Gourmet. The low-paid workforce was sacked en masse for striking against bullying management. They were replaced with even lower-paid workers. Not much “fairness” or “equality” there. When bosses act like this, all the box tick-ing diversity policies in the world are of little use.

Big business also funds capitalist politicians who attack LGBT rights. In the US, Ford’s political action committee gave donations to 35 of the Senators who voted for president Bush’s attempt to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. All three of the main parties in the UK want to increase the role of “faith based groups” in public services, especially in schools. A legal exemption was given allowing religious groups to discriminate against LGBT workers which means public-sector workers could find them-selves transferred to employers who are free to discriminate against them.

Capitalist politicians are often willing to use scapegoating to divide workers and divert anger away from their own policies. The homophobic “Section 28” law was one of Thatcher’s ways of diverting attention from attacks on left-wing local councils. New attacks on LGBT rights could be introduced under Gordon Brown.

With all three main parties faithfully serving big business, there is a massive gap in British politics. Ordinary people, including the LGBT community, need a political voice. The Socialist Party calls for the foun-dation of a mass new workers’ party to represent us. This would shift pol-itics to the left, providing a home for all those who are fed up with cuts, privatisation and attacks on democratic rights. It could attract those LGBT activists who are fed up with the commercialisation of Pride and want a vehicle for struggle. Trade unions should stop funding New Labour and put their weight behind this alternative. The unions have to take a fighting stance in the workplace against cuts, bullying management and job losses. The LGBT groups that many unions organise should be built up as a key to defending rights in the workplace.

The Socialist Party has an active LGBT group which meets to discuss the issues facing our community and organises against homophobia. Join us in our campaigns! Join the Socialist Party! Studies have shown that around 40% of LGBT people experience prejudice at work.