LGBT+

Why are homophobic attacks on the rise?

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Bethan Turner examines the toxic mix of mainstream politics, the alt-right and religious pronouncements that normalises bigotry.

"They started behaving like hooligans, demanding that we kissed so they could enjoy watching, calling us ‘lesbians’ and describing sexual positions… The next thing I know is that Chris is in the middle of the bus fighting with them.” So wrote Melanie, one of the women assaulted in a homophobic attack on a London bus in May. The incident sparked widespread condemnation, including from Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, arguably surprising, given her record, but more on that later.

From Stonewall to Trump

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Fifty years on from the Stonewall riots, the picture for LGBT+ people is very different, yet there can be no complacency in a time when the far right is attempting to weaponise our struggle, writes Bethan Turner.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. These six nights of violent demonstrations in New York’s Greenwich Village transformed the struggle for LGBT+ liberation, from a collection of mainly small and conservative lobbying groups, to a vibrant and radical movement that called for revolution as the way to win sexual liberation.

The gains of this movement were undeniable. By the end of the 1970s homosexuality was decriminalised in most US states and in 1973 homosexuality was removed from the American Phycological Association list of psychiatric disorders.

The war on trans

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Proposals aimed at enabling trans people to more easily transition have met with attacks from the right, and sadly parts of the left. Laura Miles argues that socialists must support the fightback.

Transgender Day of Remembrance on 20 November 2018 commemorated 369 trans people murdered globally that year. The 2017 figure was 325, itself an increase on 2016. These figures don’t cover the much higher numbers who took their own lives.

Lindsay Kemp: working class bohemian

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The unexpected death has been announced of Lindsay Kemp, I was going to say the dancer, but he was far, far more than this. He had a profound effect on the art and music scene of the 1970s and beyond and he was at the centre of an LGBT+ cultural revolution in London. As he once said, “We wanted to change the world, and we did for at least ten minutes.”

Gay Palestinians protest at Israel’s Pride

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The streets of Tel Aviv were adorned with rainbow flags alongside Israeli ones on 8 June as thousands of Israelis took to the streets for their 20th annual pride march.

To those unaware of the ethnic cleansing and genocide carried out by Israel on a daily basis for the past 70 years, the self-proclaimed “gay capital of the Middle East” would have appeared to represent a very tolerant and open society.

Champions of Equality

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This is a welcome account of the development of LGBT+ rights within trade unions in Britain in the last 50 years. But Champions of Equality also insists on the necessity of linking the workers movement, the left and the struggle against oppression as the key to winning real gains and reforms in society today.

Peter Purton explains the shift in general social attitudes and the resulting political gains for LGBT+ people through a detailed analysis of how LGBT+ issues were first raised, organised around, and won within the union movement.

‘Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation’

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The surrealist artist Claude Cahun is far too little known — especially at a time when her radical approach to gender and identity is so relevant to current discussions, writes Sue Caldwell.

It is unusual for this magazine to promote the cause of high fashion, but there may be a welcome overlap with that world this year. According to Vogue the muse of Christian Dior’s pre-fall collection is Claude Cahun, an artist whose life and work deserve much greater recognition. Not that Cahun would have been impressed by mentions in glossy magazines.

The art of resistance

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Gay activists played an important role in anti-fascist resistance. Noel Halifax tells the little-known story of the artist and writer turned freedom fighter Willem Arondeus, who was executed by the Nazis in the Netherlands 75 years ago.

Willem Arondeus was born in 1895, the son of theatre designers, and grew up in Amsterdam one of six children. At an early age he showed an interest in art and writing, which his parents encouraged, and in homosexuality, which his parents did not.

At the age of 17 he came out fully and refused to hide his sexuality. At the time homosexuality was legal in the Netherlands; nonetheless when he was 18 his parents kicked him out to fend for himself. He survived, but in impoverished conditions, continuing his interest in painting and writing.

Gender Recognition Act: Trans rights versus feminism?

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Proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which would allow trans people to self-declare their gender have reignited debates about trans rights and women’s oppression. Sally Campbell argues that socialists must support the right to self-identify.

In the early hours of Tuesday 22 August Kiwi Herring, a 30 year old trans woman and mother of three, was shot dead by police in St Louis, US. Police had been called after Kiwi had allegedly stabbed her neighbour. After an altercation during which one police officer received a “minor injury”, the police opened fire.

Angels in America

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Playwright Tony Kushner is having a resurgence in London, and there could not be a better time for it.

Last autumn his play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, astounded audiences at the Hampstead Theatre. Now comes a stunning, star-studded production of his seven and a half hour magnum opus Angels in America at the National Theatre.

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