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Orlando massacre: working class unity to defeat homophobia, terrorism and racism
The mass killing of 49 people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida by lone gunman Omar Mateen has shocked people in the US and worldwide.
In cities around the world gay, straight and Muslim people, have spontaneously held street vigils in solidarity with the victims' friends and families and the LGBTQ community. Michael Johnson, Leeds Socialist Party, responds.
Coming during Pride Month this has been a sobering reminder that despite some legal steps forward in recent years over same-sex marriage, etc, LGBTQ people still face massive oppression due to sexuality or gender identity.
Right-wing people such as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump disingenuously argue that the Orlando attack, and most threats to the LGBTQ community, are due to the religion of Islam. Trump has repeated his divisive call to stop Muslims entering the US - ignoring the fact that Mateen was born and raised in America.
However, homophobia and transphobia do not come from one section of society. Gay and transgender rights have recently been under attack in the US with several state authorities passing discriminatory laws allowing businesses to refuse to deal with LGBTQ customers on the grounds of "religious beliefs".
Elsewhere states have passed ordinances making transgender people use washroom facilities according to the gender designation on their birth certificates rather than there current gender identity.
Homophobia and transphobia are not an 'Islam problem', they are a problem within capitalist society as a whole.
The capitalist profit system, with its injustices and inequalities, is based upon and generates divisions between and within different social classes. It perpetuates discrimination, bigotry and the scapegoating of minority groups. Overcoming divisions within the working class through a consistent struggle against capitalism is the key task for socialists.
- To get involved with the Socialist Party LGBT group contact Michael on firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers
Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council member (Socialist Alternative)
We were all devastated to learn of the horrific terrorist attack on the LGBTQ community at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Our hearts go out to all grieving, most especially to the victims and their families.
This mass murder did not happen in a political and social vacuum. Indeed, we did not even have time to come to terms with this loss before news broke of another would-be mass killer in Los Angeles. Fortunately, his plans to attack LA Pride were discovered and stopped. But this kind of bigotry and violence will continue unless we fight it through unified mass movements.
For months, Republicans and the right wing all over the country have engaged in the vilification of our transgender community members. This vitriolic and unrelenting campaign has reinforced and strengthened the most bigoted groups and segments of society. We have to organise, mobilise, and stand up to violence, hate speech and the many forms of oppression forced down on LGBTQ people and minorities under capitalism.
We need to build the struggle for a world free from violence and bigotry, for which we need mass movements against this exploitative and divisive system.
(Published Sunday 12 June 2016)
Jihadism and imperialism
Some mass media outlets have dubbed the massacre 'America's Bataclan' (the rock concert targeted by an Isis cell in France last November).
However, while the killer claimed allegiance to Isis immediately prior to his killing spree, his former partner, who had suffered violent abuse from him, says he was mentally ill.
Some parallels have been made to the 'Isis inspired' stabbings in Leytonstone, east London, by Muhaydin Mire, whose family had warned the authorities that he was mentally ill prior to him attacking bystanders at a tube station.
But Mateen had ready access to automatic weapons, which again raises the debate over gun ownership and control in the US, where mass shootings are a regular occurrence.
The FBI had previously interviewed him for possible terrorist links but concluded there were none. President Obama too has reiterated the absence of an organised link between Mateen and Isis, the reactionary Islamist terrorist organisation.
The authorities cite Isis and al-Qa'ida websites as sources inspiring 'home grown' Islamist terrorists. But why does such propaganda gain traction among a small minority of the population?
People can turn to violent reaction because they're angered by imperialist interventions and bloody wars in the Middle East and from continuing injustices (such as the oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state), as well as Western governments' support for rotten, semi-feudal dictatorships such as the Saudi royal family.
Moreover, Western governments have turned a blind eye to how extreme jihadist movements have been nurtured by reactionary Sunni Islam regimes.
As Patrick Cockburn points out in the Independent: "The US and EU states have not wanted to acknowledge the link between the terrorism and their strategic Sunni allies such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and Pakistan."
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