With Pride Month closing at the end of June, Militant Left (CWI Ireland), look at the struggle that the LGBTQ+ community continues to face today.
The first pride was a riot. The Stonewall riots began in New York in 1969 against police harassment of LGBTQ people in their safe spaces. It signified the start of a massive movement of resistance by the LGBTQ+ community against the oppression they faced. Stonewall was an uprising against the illegality of being LGBTQ+ in the US and against the violence of police and their enforcement of this oppression.
The struggle continues
Here in Ireland today, we have come a long way in relation to LGBTQ+ equality. June also marks the repeal in 1993 of legislation criminalising homosexuality, the result of decades of campaigning by the LGBT community. Following this in the South, we saw the historic marriage equality referendum, where the majority of people voted yes to equality. Marriage equality was later legalised in the North too, both following many years of struggle from the LGBTQ+ community. However, these steps in the right direction have not meant an end to homophobia and transphobia. LGBTQ+ people still face high levels of homelessness, violence, and mental illness. Homophobic and transphobic crimes are still extremely underreported.
For trans people, the situation continues to be extremely difficult. Currently, trans people are forced to fight for access to basic healthcare, go through unnecessary and expensive processes to be recognised for who they are. Healthcare for trans people is grossly underfunded, with people being forced to wait five years for treatment. These services should be provided by the state and widely available in a timely manner.
Mental health services in crisis
The continuing privatisation of mental health resources has had a devastating effect on so many working class people. We know that LGBTQ+ people are at risk of mental illness, but for working class LGBTQ+ it can be extremely difficult to receive any professional help. Mental health support should be free, widely available, and run by the health service, not by private companies trying to profit off of human misery. We need a huge increase in funding and actually spending for all areas of mental health which would essentially include additional supports for the LGBTQ+ community.
Separate church and state
A key part of the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality has to be the full separation of church and state. In the South of Ireland, to this day, the majority of our hospitals are owned by the church, as well as 90% of schools, even though they’re fully funded by the state. Militant Left calls for state-run schools, and Church-run schools shouldn’t be funded by the taxpayers. Schools should be where people go to learn and they should be tackling homophobic bullying as well as providing factual, consent-based, and LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education.
In the North, we see the lives and rights of the LGBTQ+ community being kicked around like a sectarian football, with reactionary homophobic views still very much a part of the political landscape. LGBTQ+ equality is not going to be fought for in the Stormont Assembly – it will be fought for in the streets by the LGBTQ+ community, young people, the trade unions, and the working class as a whole.
A socialist future
In Militant Left we want to fight for all reforms and steps forward we can possibly get for the LGBTQ+ community under capitalism. However, we know that the current capitalist system depends on and encourages divisions and discrimination. We want to fight for a socialist society that fights for the rights of all minorities, an equal society that rejects oppression and discrimination.