LGBT rights

Caitlyn Jenner: muddle on the left

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Just possibly readers of Socialist Review may not be acquainted with the Kardashians and so may also be unaware that one of the show’s participants, 1976 Olympic gold decathlete Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn, has recently come out as transgender.

Millions have watched interviews and read articles about her transition and social media has been buzzing. Much reaction has been supportive, but some has been hostile.

When gays and Panthers were united

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In the late 1960s the Black Panthers and the early gay liberation movement fought against different forms of oppression. But, as Noel Halifax explains, they could find common ground.

In August 1970 in the Black Panthers’ paper Huey Newton wrote “A letter to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation” arguing that they were fellow revolutionary movements and pledging the Panthers to support gay liberation.

This was unusual for the time as in the 1970s Stalinism and Maoism dominated the left, especially in the US, and they both viewed homosexuality as a bourgeois deviancy — a pastime for the decadent upper classes. So how did this come about?

Putting solidarity back into Pride

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Nicola Field and Gethin Roberts of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners spoke to Socialist Review about politicising this year's Pride season.

We’ve just seen a majority Tory government elected. How will this shape the context of the Pride marches this year and the wider work you are doing through the re-launched Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM)?

Nicola: The Tories, who were seen before the election by the bourgeois gay movement as heroes because they brought in gay marriage, have now shown their true colours. The cabinet is full of homophobes, such as the new equalities minister, Caroline Dinenage, who voted against equal marriage.

Homophobia in the First World War

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The Black Book trial of 1918 exposed the extent of anti-gay feeling in a British society at war. And, writes Noel Halifax, it gave us Noel Pemberton Billing, the Nigel Farage of his day.

On 29 May 1918 a libel trial began which engrossed the nation and became the high point of the short but dramatic political career of Noel Pemberton Billing MP. Now a forgotten name in history, at the time he was the figurehead of a nasty far-right movement which had all the same features as groups in Germany that were to give birth to the Nazi party — ultra-patriotic, anti-Semitic and awash with conspiracy theories. What distinguished the British version from the German one was its obsessive homophobia.

The Imitation Game

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“We’re going to break an unbreakable Nazi code and win the war” says Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) near the start of this new biopic of the computer pioneer.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story, well they do now. And that’s one of the problems for the film makers. So they tweak the plot, glam it up by getting Keira Knightly to do the exposition and add some extra espionage in case the raw elements aren’t enough.

Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement

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Magnus Hirschfeld was central to the German gay rights movement at the turn of the 20th century. From the 1890s to the 1930s he was a member of numerous committees, societies, campaigns and institutes that together can be said to be the first major gay rights movement that involved thousands of people, and usually with him as the spokesperson and leader.

Time to celebrate LGBT history

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Schools OUT was founded 40 years ago to campaign on lesbian, gay and bisexual issues in education. Sue Caldwell spoke to Tony Fenwick, a co-founder, about the fight against homophobia and transphobia.


Can you tell us about the circumstances in which Schools OUT was launched in 1974 and the challenges you faced?

Schools OUT started as the Gay Teachers' Group after John Warburton was sacked from his school and banned from working for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) for telling the truth.

Some students in his class had seen him coming out of a gay bar and they asked him if he was gay. He said that he was. That was it. It was enough to finish his teaching career in London.

Life out of the shadows

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Bayard Rustin was a key strategist in the US civil rights movement and the main organiser of the March on Washington. He was also gay and a communist. Josh Hollands celebrates his life and achievements.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for jobs and civil rights. Until recently it seemed as though one of its most important organisers would remain largely forgotten.

Bayard Rustin was a key strategist of the civil rights movement, as well as an adviser and mentor to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Historians have noted that it was Rustin who guided King to mass non-violent action to challenge the racist Jim Crow system.

Ghosts of the past return

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Homophobia is back on the political agenda of the right across Europe, writes Colin Wilson. But there is also potential for resistance if LGBT people unite with anti-cuts groups and trade unionists.

The right-wing homophobes have come out of the closet. Most Tory MPs voted against same-sex marriage. Ukip -currently at double figures in the polls - opposes gay marriage, and local Ukip members have put out leaflets claiming that children "have the right to a father and a mother." The Tories have failed to revive the economy, and with no end to cuts and falling pay in sight. In this context the right are desperate for scapegoats - attacking benefit claimants, immigrants, Muslims and now LGBT people.

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