LGBT rights

The legacy of Harvey Milk

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The story of gay activist Harvey Milk is one of the most inspiring episodes of in the fight for LGBT liberation

Although it is now over 35 years since Harvey Milk was elected as the first openly gay public official in the United States, winning a Supervisor (city council) seat in San Francisco, his life and politics still inspire many young LGBT people to come out and fight for equal rights.

Milk's early politics were certainly not that radical. He was an analyst at a high-powered financial institution, supported the Vietnam War and campaigned for the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, in the 1964 presidential election.

Why Obama won

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Obama won a second term as US president despite his record. Here US socialist Eric Fretz argues he benefitted from a shift to the left in US society. But what are the prospects for the growth of movements from below that challenge big business and the two-party system?

Four years ago Barack Obama won a historic victory during an economic downturn and widespread opposition to the Bush administration by running as the candidate of hope and change. This year Obama won re-election, in the face of a still bleak economy and widespread disappointment in his own administration, by not seeming as bad as his opponent. The Republicans wanted the election to be a referendum on Obama's first term. Noting the disappointment with "hope and change".

Putting the politics back into Pride

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As World Pride arrives in London, Ellie May looks at its radical roots, considers what has changed since the Stonewall riots in 1969 and asks how we strengthen the struggle for LGBT equality today

World Pride 2012 will see an expected one million people gather in central London to celebrate all things LGBT. But the Pride parades as we know them are a far cry from the first gay pride demonstrations held in the US in the early 1970s.

Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

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The death of Adrienne Rich leads Colin Wilson to recall the lesbian feminist politics of the 1980s

Adrienne Rich, who died in March, will be remembered chiefly as a poet who was part of the radical movement.

Her writing recorded the personal impact of the struggles of the 1960s, such as those against racism and the war in Vietnam. Rich came out as a lesbian and depicted love between women in her poems from the mid-70s on. In her seventies she continued to be politically active - opposing the war in Iraq - and to publish poetry.

Marxism and oppression

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Marxists are sometimes accussed of being dismissive of oppression, preferring to emphasise the importance of class. Sara Bennett explains why socialists argue for working class unity as the best way to combat, and ultimately abolish, all forms of oppression

Forty five years ago being gay in Britain was a criminal offence. Today there is a good chance we could see gay marriage legalised by the government before the end of its term in office. This is just one example of many huge strides forward we have achieved in the fight against oppression, whether of LGBT people, women, black people or other oppressed groups.

Dancing to the wrong tune

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In recent times Islamophobia has started to creep into art and theatre, including pieces by artists who have previously produced progressive and pioneering work. This is part of a corrosive trend that has led to some mainstream liberal commentators to pander to anti-Muslim racism.

From the 1980s onwards Australian-born choreographer Lloyd Newson, with his physical theatre company DV8, has created groundbreaking work. He has challenged the boundaries of dance, both in form and in content, and made work that was both overtly political and artistically cutting-edge.

Sex and the German Revolution

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As part of LGBT history month, Colin Wilson looks at the how the German Revolution of 1918 led to significant new freedoms for lesbians and gays, and the role played by Communists

Germany's looming defeat in the First World War meant political crisis. In November 1918 the fleet mutinied and revolution began. The Kaiser - the German emperor - fled to Holland and a republic was proclaimed, beginning a period of radicalisation that was to last until 1923. But, while they had started a revolution, German workers never took the decisive final step of seizing power, as the Russian working class had done in October 1917.

Don't blame religion

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Where do homophobia and transphobia come from? Many people point to religion as the root cause. But the belief that religion is to blame is a reworking of an old argument first fought out in the 1840s.

Then as now there was an argument about where awful ideas come from and how we can change them. It was not Richard Dawkins who first said that "religion is the root of all evil" but the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. It was against Feuerbach's ideas that Marx and Engels first formulated their ideas of historical materialism.

Imperialism and homophobia

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Recent years have seen increased international coverage of LGBT issues. While activists are rightly outraged by the attacks people suffer in other parts of the world, it's important to understand the broader context of homophobia in order to avoid promoting racist stereotypes, argues Colin Wilson

In February the BBC screened a documentary about Uganda, The World's Worst Place to be Gay?, fronted by gay Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills. Mills documented the grim facts: serious attacks against lesbians and gays are going on in Uganda, with a bill under discussion in parliament which would introduce the death penalty for gay sex if the offender has previous convictions, is HIV+ or has sex with someone under 18. There is widespread public hostility to gay people, and gay activists face murderous attacks - such as that on David Kato, who was beaten to death in January.

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