Socialist Worker

Fighting for an entirely different vision of sexuality

by Alan Kenny
Issue No. 2176

American Gay Liberation Front activists in the 1970s

American Gay Liberation Front activists in the 1970s

The LGBT movement has made massive gains. A little over 40 years ago gay sex was illegal in Britain, but in 2005 we saw the first civil partnerships.

Still the recent rise in homophobic attacks raises serious questions for us.

Oppression remains hardwired in the capitalist system. Disturbing levels of institutionalised homophobia still exist.

The most worrying statistics are about bullying in schools. Stonewall, the LGBT rights organisation, produced its School Report in 2007. This cites some horrifying statistics.

Almost two thirds of young lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils have experienced direct bullying.

But, less than a quarter of young gay people have been told that homophobic bullying is wrong.

Little wonder that one in five young LGBT people have tried to kill themselves.

We still live with the legacy of the Tories’ Section 28 legislation from 1988, which banned teachers from “promoting homosexuality”. In practice this removed any discussion of it from schools except in relation to Aids.

The Labour government didn’t reverse the law until the end of 2003. And Labour has done very little to challenge homophobia in our schools since it has been in power.

At a time of economic crisis when people fear for their jobs and homes, our rulers can seek to deepen apparent divisions between people.

The tiny minority at the top would much rather we all thought that Muslims, immigrants or LGBT people were the problem rather than blaming the bosses who caused the recession in the first place.

But we can’t allow the prejudices of Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, or Nazi Nick Griffin on Question Time to be the thin end of a wedge that divides us.

Now is the time to build a militant movement against homophobia that unites gay and straight, black and white.

Capitalism only survives by keeping the massive majority of us divided. We have to build a movement that fights for a different vision of sexuality entirely.

Our inspiration should be the Gay Liberation Front that was born out of New York’s Stonewall riot in 1969.

This was a movement that fought for unity with others fighting back against the system for a different kind of world.


London's first Gay Pride march in 1972 finished with a rally in Trafalgar Square

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Article information

Tue 3 Nov 2009, 18:39 GMT
Issue No. 2176
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