The next general election will be fought on a “mix of culture wars and trans debate,” according to Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson. Fighting elections on anything but their own record is becoming the main strategy for the Tories.
They will enter the next election riven with splits and infighting, and facing an economy which is in crisis and has delivered the biggest fall in living standards in over half a century. The Tory party is swinging away from the cynical attempts under David Cameron and Theresa May to be something other than the ‘nasty party’, returning to the LGBTQ+phobia of old.
Given their crisis-ridden state, the Tories are subject to pressures, from all directions. That’s what’s behind the U-turns of U-turns of U-turns on conversion therapy.
But there are threats to the gains LGBTQ+ workers and young people have won, as indicated by the pushing of backward revisions to equality laws and guidelines for trans people, alongside an increase in general anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.
Under Keir Starmer, the Labour Party has shown the same passion to challenge the Tories over these attacks on LGBTQ+ people as they have elsewhere; they’ve done nothing at best and echoed the rhetoric at worst.
And our issues are not restricted to the dire state of the policies for LGBTQ+ rights from the two main parties in parliament. Over the last few years we’ve seen rising hate crime figures, including in recent weeks attacks on people and businesses in Manchester’s gay village. Drag queens performing can attract crowds of protesters. Healthcare is increasingly hard to access, with many services unable to meet demand and with years-long waiting lists. The Met Police being shown to be institutionally LGBTQ+phobic. In education, divisive ideas from the Tories and those running academies. In sport, the drive for profit cuts across genuine negotiation about how to organise in an inclusive and fair way. And the media of the billionaires is further stoking this division.
However, in the face of all these attacks, recent years have also seen the working class fight back. The strike waves have clearly shown the potential power we have when united and taking action. Striking workers have shown the government and bosses can be forced to make concessions on pay and conditions. LGBTQ+ people have a proud history of fighting for our rights. The rights we have now haven’t been gifted from on high but are there because we struggled for them. And the working class organised within trade unions could lead a fight and win rights and resources for the whole of the working class, including what LGBTQ+ people need.
Trade unionists and socialists can also make a difference at the ballot box. At the recent local elections hundreds of Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates stood on a programme that challenged the politics of austerity and division of the establishment parties.
So, it’s in this context that the Socialist Party’s LGBTQ+ group has revised and updated our charter for LGBTQ+ workers and young people. When we first published this charter in 2021 we said we hoped to start a discussion about the demands needed to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, and what programme is needed to end LGBTQ+phobic discrimination. And discuss we certainly have – with young people and workers at Pride events and other protests up and down the country where this charter has been keenly taken up.
Help us to build a mass movement to smash LGBTQ+phobia and fight for a socialist society democratically planned and organised to meet all our needs free from exploitation, discrimination and poverty. Appeal for support for the charter in your workplaces, youth organisations and trade unions. To purchase your copy visit the Leftbooks website.