A determined meeting saw lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and their supporters, gather in central London against homophobia on Tuesday evening. More than 65 people attended the meeting, which came after large vigils in London, Liverpool and other towns and cities against the rise in homophobic hate crime.
Hannah Dee from the Socialist Workers Party told the meeting, “We are not going to be intimidated off the streets or pushed back into the closet.” She linked the rise in homophobic attacks to the electoral gain of the fascist BNP and the politics of scapegoating that can come to the fore in the economic crisis.
She emphasised the need to take to the streets, as the gay liberation movement did in the 1960s and 1970s, to challenge homophobia, and building links with other groups that are fighting back.
Ellie Barnes, a teacher from Stoke Newington School in Hackney, spoke about the way that the celebration of LGBT History Month in February had massively reduced homophobia in her school, and how other schools should follow their example.
Tami Peterson of the NUS LGBT committee analysed how society needs homophobia to divide people. “We are all trying to work towards a society where it doesn’t matter who people love and how they love,” she said. Tami paid tribute to socialist activist and theorist Chris Harman, who sadly died last week.
The other speakers were Laura Miles, of the UCU lecturers’ union, who spoke about the need to translate the gains of legislation into the “lived experience” of LGBT people, and Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism. He told the meeting how the BNP was spreading racism and homophobia wherever it went, and how it must be resisted.
A discussion followed where many attendees stressed the need for united, militant action. Mark Healey, who set up the 17-24-30 group that organised the London vigil, agreed that “unity is the way forward”, but that at different times we will disagree and have to do things differently while walking forward together.
Participants were urged to attend the upcoming protest against homophobia in Liverpool on 22 November. The meeting ended with people agreeing to organise more meetings, events and protests in the future.
March against homophobia, 1pm, Sunday 22 November, steps of St George’s Hall (opposite Lime Street station), Liverpool