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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. 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 protestors 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 Latin America.
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 (click below). For the CWI and the Socialist Party LGBT liberation is an integral part of the struggle for socialism.
In The Socialist 29 May 2007:
Labour Party leadership
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
Environment and socialism