Anarchism can learn a lot from the feminist movement. In many respects it already has. Anarcha-feminists have developed analyses of patriarchy that link it to the state form. We have learned from the slogan that "the personal is political" (e.g. men who espouse equality between all genders should treat the women in their lives with dignity and respect). We have learned that no revolutionary project can be complete while men systematically dominate and exploit women; that socialism is a rather empty goal--even if it is "stateless"--if men's domination of women is left intact.
May 22nd offers an opportunity for many of us in Ireland to strike a blow against homophobia in voting for Marriage equality.
We find ourselves in Ireland facing a imminent referendum on marriage equality, which the hardline religious right are opposing as part of their program of maintaining multiple oppressions.
A No vote in that context would be disastrous, serving only to entrench homophobia. Therefore anarchists are campaigning for a Yes to Marriage Equality vote but beyond the need to ensure the referendum is not defeated this session of the 2015 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair asked what else needed to be said?
1. The WSM Constitution’s core point of unity number 7 states:
“We actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice within the workers' movement and society in general and we work alongside those struggling against racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia as a priority. We see the success of a revolution and the successful elimination of these oppressions after the revolution being determined by the building of such struggles in the pre-revolutionary period. The methods of struggle that we promote are a preparation for the running of society along anarchist and communist lines after the revolution.”
As class-struggle anarchists dealing with the relations between gender, race and class, we must, in theory and practice, pick a path between two pitfalls. On one side is economic reductionism – the reduction of all political questions to the social relations of production – which erases the perspectives and struggles of women, queers and people of colour; submerges their voices within an overly generalised class narrative, in which the idealised Worker is implicitly white heterosexual and male; or consigns their struggles to a secondary importance compared to the “real struggle” of (economic) class against class. On the other is a stultifying and inward-looking liberal-idealist identity politics, concerned fetishistically with the identification of privilege and the self-regulation of individual oppressive behaviour to the (near) exclusion of organised struggle, which, while amplifying the voices of the marginalised, consigns them to an echo chamber where they can resonate harmlessly.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Celebrations have recently been seen all over the world, as a celebration of sexual diversity. It's worth remembering the history of Pride celebrations, of their origin in a homophobic and repressive culture, and their challenge to a world that refused to recognise sexual freedom. In this article, Paul McAndrew discusses the origins of Pride as a moment when the queer community in New York stood up and fought to be proud of their sexualities.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill published in November 2015 contains proposed measures to criminalise the purchase of sex, an approach inspired by legislation undertaken by countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and in Northern Ireland which frames itself as a “progressive” move, often referred to as the “Swedish Model”.
Minister of state Aodhan O Riordan claims that removing those selling sex from the 1993 criminalisation act will help vulnerable workers to report violence and misconduct and thus stay safer at work. Yet according to sex workers themselves, only 2% agreed that criminalising clients is a good idea (as interviewed for the Queen’s University Belfast report, 2014).
For the first time in the history of the Northern Irish state a majority of MLAs have voted in favour of Marriage Equality. The motion, however, has fallen due to the DUP launching a Petition of Concern which blocks any passing of the motion to law.
Voting against the motion - as 52 politicians did - is one thing, but guaranteeing its failure in spite of a winning majority vote reveals the homophobic, bigoted and bitter nature of the DUP.
The issue of Marriage Equality is to be debated for the fifth time in Stormont today (Nov 2nd). Yet again, however, the DUP has launched a Petition of Concern to ensure that should the motion be successful its legal passing will be blocked.
The Petition of Concern is a funny old thing. Sometimes it works in our favour, like when it was used earlier this year to block the DUP’s “Conscience Clause”, a clause which would have effectively blocked LGBT+ people and Queers from certain parts of society under the guise of “religious freedom”.
During the rise of HIV and Hepatitis B in the 70s and 80s the UK Government enforced a blanket ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.
In 2011 this ban was changed slightly - the ban would only last a year after a man had sex with another man, meaning that if any queer men wanted to donate blood they would have to abstain from sex with men for a year.