THE NAIL bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho a year last April killed three people: two gay men – Nick Moore and John Light; and a married, mother-to-be, Andrea Dykes. One man had to have both legs amputated, five others each lost a leg, 30 are still undergoing repeat operations.
That bomb did more than just shatter glass and limbs. It ripped through the heart of Britain’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Despite the daily experience of discrimination many were unprepared for the realisation that some people want us dead simply because of what we are.
The Soho atrocity followed the bombs at Brixton and Brick Lane – predominantly black and Asian areas of London. The link was immediate. As was the defiant response.
Demonstrations showed that none of us – black, Asian, gay – were prepared to sit back in the face of such attacks. The black and the pink have always been targets of right-wing reactionaries, from Hitler’s Nazis to the neo-fascists of today, through to mainstream society.
David Copeland is currently on trial charged with planting the bombs. No one doubts his links with far-right groups such as the British National Party, even though they maintain that he acted alone.
And though these far-right groups are tiny, incidents like the nail bombings, whether directly organised – or indirectly ‘inspired’ – by them, show they pose a threat. Only massive, united action by working-class people can drive them back. The spontaneous upsurge of activity achieved that last year.
Recently, the far-right has been on the move again. Mardi Gras in Leicester was called off after threats were made by another neo-fascist group, the National Front (NF). Because of the role played by the Socialist Party, its leading organisers have received threats from the NF – adding the red to the black and the pink.
It is important to keep a sense of proportion. There has been an increase in homophobic attacks and bullying, which has included far-right involvement. The neo-fascists have been bolstered by the anti-asylum seeker propaganda peddled by the Tories and New Labour and the promotion of ‘traditional family values’ (which denigrates other familial relationships – single-parent families, same-sex couples, etc).
But in society in general there is an ever-increasing tolerance of gay relationships and recognition of rights. Some commentators, like James Collard, exaggerate the progress made: “In the UK, while bad things happen, equality seems to be just behind a creaky old door – a few sharp kicks and we’re through.” (Independent on Sunday, 7 November 1999).
This is a perception only of a wealthy few looking down from pink pound penthouse suites. The vast majority of working-class and middle-class lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people have to deal with daily discrimination in the workplace, school and housing estate.
The fact that there have been few large-scale movements by working-class people has also raised the confidence of the neo-fascists.
Capitalism provides a fertile breeding ground on which neo-fascist ideas breed: poverty, bad housing, inadequate social facilities and the rest. The only way to clear out the racist, fascist scum is by eradicating the conditions on which it breeds. That means uniting to replace the whole rotten capitalist system with a new society – a democratic socialist society – based on human solidarity, understanding and tolerance.