Last month, a video of a horrific attack on a 14 year-old gay student in Navan by a group of students was posted on social media. The victim was hospitalised and suffered severe facial injuries. The video resulted in the arrest of five teenage boys, but this was only after the outrage online.
A daily reality of fear
This attack is sadly not an isolated incident; it’s part of a trend of rising violence and hostility against LGBTQ+ people. Last year was the most violent year in a decade for LGBTQ+ people in Europe. A report by LGBT Ireland found that 75% of queer people here have been verbally abused due to their sexuality or gender identity while one in five has been punched, hit or physically attacked in public.
From marriage equality to gender recognition, important changes have been won by the determined campaigning of LGBTQ+ people. But this shouldn’t be used to cover up the real record of Ireland’s political establishment. Ireland has the worst provision of trans healthcare in the EU. Schools remain dominated by the Catholic Church and there is no guarantee of access to LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education for young people.
And now we face a growing right-wing backlash that targets LGBTQ+ people, both in Ireland and internationally. The media, politicians and an emboldened far right are pushing a moral panic based on fear and misinformation about trans people, drag queens and the ‘indoctrination’ of children. In the US, a raft of bills are being introduced that ban young people from transition, exclude trans people from sport, or outlaw material about queer people from schools and libraries. These laws have been accompanied by an escalation in hate rhetoric and violent protest. There is a strategy by an emboldened right wing which targets all LGBTQ+ people and seeks to reverse the progress we have made over recent years.
We’re seeing this in Ireland too. Far-right activists are intimidating library workers for stocking LGBTQ+ books and stirring up panic over sex education. While Fine Gael along with other establishment parties will no doubt be marching in Pride this year, its politicians have started engaging in anti-trans rhetoric. In a cynical attempt to distract from the public outrage over the eviction ban, FG TD Paul Kehoe claimed that TDs were receiving more emails from people opposed to trans rights than about evictions! Meanwhile, some corporations and NGOs are caving to right-wing pressure and removing Pride material from their shops or their social media.
The political and corporate establishment are not real ‘’allies’’; they only sought to benefit from the LGBTQ+ community after our movements had already brought about major changes in public attitudes. In the face of resurgent transphobia and homophobia, we will see more and more how shallow their commitment to LGBTQ+ liberation really is.
Organise against the right-wing backlash!
The rights we have won can’t be taken for granted and to defend them, we need to get organised and build a new movement based on struggle and solidarity. We need a movement based on:
- Solidarity: the same forces that are attacking LGBTQ+ rights are attacking women, migrants and people of colour. They are anti-worker and anti-tenant. We can fight these attacks by linking the struggles of LGBTQ+ people with a united struggle of all those oppressed and exploited by this system.
- Mass Mobilisation: Pride should be a protest – we need to mobilise tens of thousands onto the streets to say no to the rising tide of LGBTQphobia. Workers in sectors like education and healthcare are at the frontline of many new homophobic and transphobic measures and can use their power as workers to withdraw their labour in the fight against them.
- Anti-capitalism: While corporations and right-wing politicians put on a progressive face, the capitalist system they preside over is based on rampant inequality and oppression. This system in crisis is now fuelling a resurgence of the far right. It’s a system based on the idealised nuclear family, rigid gender norms and it relies on bigotry and division to maintain control. To really achieve liberation we need to break with this system and to build a multi-gendered, multi-racial working class movement to fight for an alternative.
Join the socialists
That alternative is a democratic socialist society based on equality and solidarity, where wealth is seized from the hands of the capitalist elite, and is publicly owned and democratically controlled to meet the needs of people & the planet . If you agree, join us today.