The Socialist 29 June 2001 |
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Rebuild Pride's Fighting Traditions
IN FOUR years Labour has only delivered two major reforms on gay rights - an equal age of consent, and lifting the ban on gay people in the military.
Lionel Wright, Socialist Party Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Group
In this situation, Pride, which takes place this weekend on 30 June is as important as ever; as a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) visibility and an out-and-proud demonstration for equality and against the reactionary right.
Pride arose from our community's struggles against oppression. The first march was organised in New York to commemorate the historic Stonewall Riots of 1969.
In Britain the march grew slowly and steadily until 1988, when the Tory government introduced Section 28.
From then on attendance at Pride leapt by tens of thousands and not long after a Pride Festival attracted over 300,000.
If these numbers could be mobilised regularly it would send a message that lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people are a force to be reckoned with.
Sadly, Pride's fighting traditions are now being undermined by commercialism. Both parts of the event are now controlled by the Mardi Gras business group (MG).
Pressure from activists has prevented MG from dropping the name 'Pride', and forced it to keep a political theme on the renamed 'March and Parade' (this year it is Partnership Rights).
Faced with a £15 minimum gate charge, over-priced drinks etc, thousands have deserted the 'Mardi Gras Festival'.
The dominance of Festival advertising, ambiguous 'March and Parade' tag and an emphasis on floats have all affected the character of the event.
The Socialist Party LGB group calls on activists to save Pride, in the first instance by supporting the march with placards and banners.
There are now at least two campaigns with the stated aim of taking Pride back into non-profit community control. The latest is called "Pride not Profit".
Meanwhile, last month an LGBT contingent took part in the May Day protests in Oxford Street.
So long as discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people continues, the political traditions behind Pride will survive and continue.
The Socialist Party calls for:
- The Immediate Repeal Of Section 28
- Scrap discriminatory sex education guidelines - give young people full, inclusive and neutral sex, health and relationship information.
- Workplace Protection For LGBT People
- Legislation now to fulfil Britain's obligation under the EU Amsterdam Treaty to prohibit workplace discrimination against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. No waivers for backdoor discrimination by religious employers.
- Equal Rights For Unmarried Partners
- Enable unmarried couples of any sexuality to register their partnerships and receive full legal recognition and rights.