LGBT rights

Not just toleration, liberation

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LGBT history month was launched after the scrapping of the Tories' Section 28 legislation. But, six years on, Tory cuts will hit LGBT people hard.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month was launched in 2005 in Britain to coincide with the abolition of the Tories' infamous Section 28 legislation.

No one was ever prosecuted under this very nasty piece of opportunistic homophobic legislation. However, the fact that Section 28 of the Tories' Local Government Act of 1988 made it illegal for local authorities to "promote" homosexuality (ie to treat it as acceptable) was sufficient to intimidate local authorities and force teachers to shy away from openly discussing LGBT issues with students or each other.

The Red in the Rainbow

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Hannah Dee, Bookmarks, £7.99

The Red in the Rainbow is no normal addition to an LGBT activist's bookshelf. It is a must-read for the whole movement. This is a critical weapon for LGBT activists, providing the perspective needed in an emerging movement. But it also relates this struggle directly to the wider challenges we face today for human liberation - from the Con-Dem cuts, the economic crisis and the threat of the British National Party and English Defence League, to building an effective coalition of resistance.

Queer politics: the debate

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Queer politics are influential in LGBT liberation movements. Should this be embraced or is it an obstacle to taking the fight forward? We present the cases for and against.

Queer is radical
by Alan Bailey, NUS LGBT officer (personal capacity)

The gay and lesbian rights movement has never been made up of simply gays and lesbians - it's always been an alliance of activists with a whole host of sexualities and gender identities. The Stonewall riots are often referred to as riots of gays and lesbians, but actually many of the rioters were trans.

Homophobic attacks: A rise in hate?

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Thousands of people gathered at a vigil in Trafalgar Square last month where just weeks earlier Ian Baynham, a gay man, had been battered to death by teenagers.

The attack hadn't taken place in some dark back street but in front of surveillance cameras in the centre of a city that many young people have regarded as the safest place in which to come out.

New Labour equality flagship on the rocks

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New Labour has had 13 years to tackle inequality but the underfunded and toothless equalities watchdog falls far short of what's needed.

Working people in Britain now largely take it for granted that it is wrong to be bullied or discriminated against for being a woman, black, disabled or gay and that there are legal powers and workplace policies which exist to challenge such discrimination. In the last quarter of the 20th century a smorgasbord of equality legislation was adopted in response to campaigning by the women's movement, anti-racists, and LGBT rights and disability rights activists.

Interview with Lillian Faderman: Chronicles of LGBT struggles

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Lesbians faced appalling official discrimination in the US in the 1950s. LGBT historian Lillian Faderman tells Rita Mcloughlin that although conditions have changed dramatically we still need to fight for more.

What was it like coming out as a working class lesbian in the 1950s?

The 1950s were probably the worst time ever to be a lesbian in the US. I look at what the Western world is like now for lesbians and it's a different universe. Of course I recognise that young lesbians might have trouble with their families and still feel that there are certain jobs where they can't be out, but they have no conception of the constant fear lesbians lived in then.

O is for oppression

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One of the common accusations thrown at Marxism by others in the movement is that it is "economistic" - it reduces everything to the economy and class relations and therefore can't deal adequately with questions of oppression.

On the surface this can seem a reasonable point.

Oppression doesn't mirror class but cuts across it. All women suffer from sexism, whether an Indonesian factory worker or a highly paid (though not as highly paid as her male counterparts) London City trader. A factory worker's experience of her oppression, however, is very different to that of a rich woman.

LGBT history month: The rainbow nation today

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The South African constitution is one of the most advanced in the world when it comes to LGBT rights. Viv Smith, a gay rights activist who worked for the ANC during the writing of the constitution, describes how these advances were won but argues there is still so much to fight for today.

The mass movement that got rid of apartheid carried with it a vision for a different society. The constitution, signed in 1996, symbolised the hopes of millions. Containing the most advanced Bill of Rights in the world it is no surprise that LGBT activists and human rights campaigners celebrated it. We felt that everything was possible: the world was at our feet ready for the taking.

G is for gay liberation

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The modern gay liberation movement was born out of two nights of rioting in June 1969 after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York.

The rioters, once dismissed as "sick" or "perverted" by many, took inspiration from the anti-war and black power movements. Chanting "Gay power", they started a mass movement that changed the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people forever.

Gay liberation has come a long way. In the last decade alone we have seen six legislative changes in favour of gay rights. Attitudes have shifted - a recent poll found 90 percent supportive of gay rights, yet only 20 years ago 70 percent of the British public thought homosexuality was "always or mostly wrong".

Gay Rights: Who are the Real Enemies of Liberation?

The bigoted outburst by the magazine of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association calling Islam a 'barmy doctrine' is the clearest example of the co-option of many in the gay liberation movement into the barmy doctrine of the clash of civilisations.

That homosexuals around the world face oppression on a daily basis is as true of the US and Europe as it is for those living in the Muslim world. Yet, some have chosen to shift the struggle into a racist argument against Islam.

Listening to Western activists speak about 'Islamofascism' and, in the same breath, justify holding the 2006 World Pride in occupied Jerusalem should be a clear indicator. The apartheid wall alone makes a mockery of the pride's slogan of 'Love Without Borders'.


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