The Socialist 22 February 2012 |
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Fight homophobic Tory attacks
The Con-Dems' all-out assault on public services hits everyone - but some groups in society suffer disproportionately. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people are often hit badly by cuts in public services and are more likely to end up homeless.
Bullying and physical attacks on LGBT people are rising. Homophobic rhetoric from Tories, at the moment focussed on the issue of marriage, is a contributing factor. Here two Socialist Party members look at the issue.
According to a report in the Independent (17 January 2012) over 100 Conservative backbenchers threaten to vote against the coalition's plans to introduce same-sex marriage. Success for this revolt would be a victory for the forces of prejudice and a threat to our right to live as we choose.
Is David Cameron's apparent reversal of his homophobic stances when in opposition a positive sign? Then he voted against the repeal of "Section 28" which banned the alleged "promotion of homosexuality" by local councils. He also opposed lesbians and gay men being allowed to adopt children and wanted to prevent lesbians from receiving in vitro fertilisation treatment.
Now, Cameron aims to modernise marriage for traditionalist reasons. "I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative", he declares. He is also trying to "modernise" the Tories and ditch their image as the nasty party.
Because Labour MPs will support same-sex marriage it is unlikely that the Tory rebels would win a vote in parliament, but by promoting homophobia they will encourage the blaming of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans (LGBT) people for society's problems.
The Thatcher government introduced section 28 in the 1980s to divert attention from cuts. Capitalist politicians use prejudice and scapegoat minorities to divide workers among themselves, aiming to cut across any fightback against their attacks.
Tory right wing
Many Tory right-wingers oppose the coalition deal with the Lib Dems, who support same-sex marriage. They see Cameron as betraying the Thatcherite heritage, including Section 28, and will use homophobia to drive a wedge through the coalition and, they hope, isolate the Tory modernisers around Cameron from the party base.
All varieties of Tory - also Labour and the Lib Dems - agree on promoting their version of "family values" as cover for attacks. They think that family members should take over all caring roles, without pay or benefits, as cuts and privatisation eat away at provision for the old, sick and disabled. Cameron's desire to modernise marriage is in part intended to co-opt LGBT people into this way of thinking.
Socialists support marriage equality. Same-sex couples should be able to get married and couples of different sexes should have access to civil partnerships. We should be able to live as we choose, free from economic pressures and social prejudices. Cameron does not share this vision.
Most people, LGBT or not, must fight simply to survive in this time of austerity. Cameron promotes 'equality' while simultaneously championing cuts that widen the gap between rich and poor.
Genuine equality can only come with the democratic, socialist transformation of society. Only in a classless society, where individuals are free from economic fears, can true individuality flourish.
Socialists work for real 'modernisation' and not capitalist 'modernisation'. The fight for LGBT liberation is the struggle for the socialist transformation of our society.
Protesting against Sentamu
On 19 February the 'Coalition for Marriage' was launched, with the aim of attacking same-sex marriage. But they face growing opposition.
Up to 150 people, including Socialist Party members, gathered on 31 January outside York cathedral, carrying banners proclaiming "Equal Marriage for All."
We were protesting at outrageous remarks by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, who said marriage should be between men and women and that "the government should not overturn centuries of tradition by legalising gay marriage".
Some see Sentamu as 'progressive' because he talks about social deprivation and human trafficking, but he is part of a wealthy institution, the Church of England, which is entrenched within the capitalist political and economic system.Sentamu gives voice to reactionary ideas that will be used against LGBT people leading to a rise in prejudice and homophobic and transphobic hate crimes.
Whether individuals believe in the institution of marriage or not, socialists support the democratic right to choose to marry regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
This is part of the overall struggle of workers, including working class LGBT people, organising to fight discrimination in workplaces and communities.
The fight for LGBT rights is part of the fight against the cuts and a system that dehumanises people in a race to the bottom in wages and living standards.