On Channel Four’s 4thought last Monday, LGBT activist Bisi Alimi described the violent homophobia he suffered in Nigeria.
He was surprised at the tolerance of LGBT people he found when he came to Britain.
Sporting a Love Music Hate Homophobia T-shirt he insisted that Pride should be about international solidarity and protest more than lifestyle celebration and “coming out to play”. He is right.
We celebrate the gains of decades of struggle, like same sex marriage, particularly through the trade unions.
But the first gay pride marches in the early 1970s were out and proud celebrations of the Stonewall rebellion against homophobia and police brutality.
Opinion polls show more acceptance of LGBT people in Britain, especially among young people. But we cannot be complacent.
In the context of cuts and growing class anger, the right need scapegoats, whether LGBT people, Muslims, or the “underserving poor”.
The warnings are there. Polari editor Christopher Bryant and his partner were physically attacked recently.
Most Tory MPs voted against same-sex marriage, Ukip opposes gay marriage and local Ukip members have issued homophobic leaflets.
Earlier this year we saw vicious transphobic attacks in the Mail on transgender teacher Lucy Meadows, who later killed herself.
LGBT people are hit disproportionately by the cuts. They are obvious ideological scapegoats but we all face George Osborne’s £11.5 billion further cuts.
Scapegoating has gone much further elsewhere.
In Greece’s economic and social crisis, the right, particularly the fascists of Golden Dawn, whip up bigotry and homophobic violence. LGBT hate crimes and attacks on migrants have escalated.
France has seen huge marches against same-sex marriage, despite the passing of the legislation. A young anti-homophobia activist was recently murdered by fascists.
Here, attacks on Muslims, and arson attacks on mosques and community centres, have mushroomed since the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.
Anti-fascist mobilisations are crucial to block the growth of fascist organisations like the English Defence League and British National Party.
The conclusions for LGBT people are clear.
The ruling class wants to use homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia to split working class unity and resistance to austerity.
Any strategy for LGBT liberation based on lobbying politicians and big business, by Stonewall and others, is fatally flawed.
It disarms LGBT struggle itself and shatters links with the forces in the working class who could break the Tories if we act together.
LGBT people fighting bigotry must stand with Muslims.
We should recognise that if they come for the Muslims in the morning they will come for us in the afternoon.
Our strategy should be to bring Turkey’s Taksim Square and Brazil—where gay rights organisations have played a very public role—to Britain.
Together LGBT and straight, black and white, Muslim and non-Muslim we are stronger and weaker when we fight separately.
Pride should be about political protest and about building unity in action with all those fighting austerity.
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