Our LGBTQ Rights: Celebrate! Defend! Expand!

Joint statement by the Young Communist League of Canada and the Communist Party of Canada

YCL at Toronto Pride 2013It’s Pride! Time to celebrate the advances of the LGBTQ communities in Canada and around the world. The Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League applaud these victories. More and more countries around the world are recognizing same-sex marriage and other fundamental LGBTQ rights. In Canada, the struggle for concrete steps to end harassment based on sexual orientation and gender expression/identity has seen a number of key victories. The number of GSA’s in schools, and districts with explicit LGBTQ policies continue to increase. Working with the queer community, Newfoundland and Manitoba have become the most recent provinces to ensure schools are safer and more welcoming places for all students. This year is the tenth anniversary of same-sex marriage in Canada.

We all welcome the continued expansion of queer-positive environments in the mass media, the labour movement and in the traditionally homophobic arena of male professional sports, where the “you can play” campaign is sending a powerful message that gay athletes must be treated with respect.

The vote by the Ontario Legislature to enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the provincial Human Rights code, the defeat of attempts to deny civic funding to Pride Toronto, the adoption of Vancouver Pride as a civic event and other legal, political and cultural victories are the hard-won results of decades of efforts by the LGBTQ community and our allies.

But those who spread fear and bigotry are not giving up. The anti-equality protests in France and the near-unanimous vote in the Russian Parliament to ban so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” are, in part, a reaction to the democratic progress being made elsewhere. The Communist Party of Canada strongly supports the statement of the International LGBTI Association-Europe co-chair, Gabi Calleja: “We are deeply concerned by the negative impact of this law (in Russia). Homophobic rhetoric which accompanied the adoption of this law at the regional and federal level for the last few years already significantly contributed toward a climate of hatred and physical violence against LGBTI people which recently resulted in a number of murders.”

There are still far too many countries where LGBTQ people face laws that can result in imprisonment or even death. Of course the myth that queer rights can only be won in wealthy capitalist countries is shattered by advances in countries such as Cuba, Brazil, and South Africa, and by the reality that homophobic and racist views are deliberately exported from North America and Europe.

And while we have made great strides here in Canada, we should not be complacent. The forces that spread hate in other countries, have powerful friends in the Conservative caucus of Stephen Harper.

Canada’s corporate-driven “austerity” cuts to social spending, and the attacks on unions, heavily impact women, Aboriginal peoples, and racialized groups, and make it far more difficult to implement significant advances towards equality. The sharpest negative impact is on the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ community, including trans, two-spirited, racialized queers and young people.Pride Fist Image

The trans community is frequently left out of the gains made by the rest of the LGBTQ community. While we celebrate the recent decision by the Nova Scotia Government to fund gender reassignment surgery, there is a long ways yet to go. The cost of delaying full equality for trans people would be tragic. This is not a “marginal” issue; trans people are 10% of the LGBTQ population, and face huge medical costs, higher unemployment, less access to housing, widespread intimidation at work, and lack of legal protections.

Despite attempts to hide their destructive social agenda, the Harper Tories aim not only to reverse queer rights but also the decades of hard-fought gender equality gains by women. Right-wing forces continue to scapegoat the LGBTQ community and racialised groups, to divide working class resistance against finance capital, corporate bailouts and global environmental plunder.

Homophobia and transphobia are weapons to divide working people; just like racism, sexism, and national chauvinism. Today, those in charge of our economy, the ruling class, use the economic crisis and the so-called “war on terror” to justify their assault on workers and social equality. But “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Our unity will be strengthened by adopting full legal and political protections for sexual orientation and gender expression, and gender identity.

This unity is a vital element of the broad democratic and social resistance against the corporate agenda of austerity and war. Together, we must build a powerful coalition to put people’s needs before corporate greed. Our LGBTQ community must be a key player in a “People’s Coalition” of labour, Aboriginal peoples, youth and students, women, seniors, farmers, immigrant and racialized communities, environmentalists, peace activists and many other allies.

Ultimately, our unified struggle in our communities and workplaces, in the streets and at the ballot box, can defeat the Harper Tories and open the door to a “people not profits” government. The goal of the Communist Party is to win fuller social equality and genuine people’s power in a socialist Canada, where our economy and resources will be socially owned and democratically controlled.

This historic advance will make it possible to eradicate the intersecting forms of exploitation and oppression which we all face today. We urge you to join the Communist Party and the Young Communist League to achieve a liberated society in which, as Karl Marx said, “the freedom of each is the condition for the freedom of all.”

YCL at Toronto Pride 2013

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