"Excerpts on lesbian/Gay Liberation "
Lesbian/gay movements have grown considerably in numbers and spread to every continent since the late 1960s.
They have managed to win significant reforms in some countries while many other movements have been on the defensive.
Since the 1980s lesbian/gay movements have emerged in many Asian, African and Eastern European countries where they did not exist before;
regained strength in key Latin American countries (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina) where they had experienced setbacks;
and on several occasions mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in Western Europe and North America.
4 Heterosexism takes on specific and sometimes particularly virulent forms in dependent countries.
European conquerors from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries often used rooting out ’sodomy’
as an ideological justification for conquering and ruling other peoples. Many countries that are now formally or politically independent still have laws against homosexuality that were imposed by former colonial rulers.
Maintenance of oppressive laws, policies and customs is often defended on the basis of religion - in dependent as in imperialist countries - including Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, and perpetuated through legally established religious or communal jurisdiction over family and personal life in countries where separation of religion and state has not been won.
Often the religious right and fundamentalists argue that the ’moral’ code they defend is a deep part of the traditional fabric of the society in which they organize.
Often in fact many of the most reactionary practices they follow, particularly those directed against women and against sexual ’deviance’, do not have such roots but are thoroughly modern as well as thoroughly reactionary. A second crucial ideological myth is the idea that homosexuality in these societies is another negative legacy of imperialism. While arguing for a materialist understanding of the rise of mass lesbian and gay identities in the context they are held today as a product of industrialization and urbanization, we also promote an understanding of the history of same-sex relationships of different types within traditional cultures.
The absence or underdevelopment of welfare states and low wage levels in the dependent countries reinforce dependence on traditional families. Particularly in rural areas, the lack of non-traditional social or political organizations or cultural alternatives make nonconformity difficult. People in dependent countries are also particularly vulnerable to the most exploitative forms of the domestic sex trade and international sex tourism. The Fourth International sees LGBT organizing in such conditions as an important part of an overall project of national liberation, which necessarily involves challenging national and religious power structures as well as imperialism. Open LGBT participation in mass democratic upsurges in several Latin American, Southern African and Southeast Asian countries have shown how lesbian/gay liberation and national liberation can go together.
7 "Today", the resolution on women’s liberation noted over twenty years ago, "faced with deepening economic problems, the ruling class is slashing social expenditures and trying to shift the burden back onto the individual family". The intervening decades have only made the situation worse. Together with stagnant or declining wages and growing unemployment, these cutbacks threaten basic prerequisites, in terms of housing, health care, child care and other forms of social support, for LGBT people to live decently apart from heterosexual families and to sustain their communities. The effects have been particularly devastating for newly emergent communities in dependent countries, as seen particularly since 1982 in Latin America and since 1997 in Southeast and East Asia, and tend to reinforce pro-family ideology. Where lesbian/gay movements exist, they should participate openly in fight-backs against capitalist austerity; in any case, such fight-backs should take up the specific demands of LGBT people for specific services or their inclusion in the existing ones.
The movement for a different globalization that has grown up from Seattle to Porto Alegre is joining together many fight-backs against capitalist austerity, making them broader, more participatory and more democratic, and providing a new opportunity to recompose the left and internationalize struggles.
It confronts all progressive social movements, including LGBT movements, with the need to go in new directions and redefine themselves socially and politically. The inclusive, participatory spaces opened up by the evolution of the World Social Forum into continental and national social forums give LGBT movements a chance to look for new allies, point out the importance of LGBT issues to movements like the workers’ movement that have often neglected them, and integrate other radical social demands into LGBT movements’ own programmes.
In a time when ’LGBT markets’ are putting new normalizing and divisive pressures on LGBT communities, and when most LGBT political currents internationally have focussed increasingly on institutional and lobbying work, it is essential that LGBT movements be part of the wider social debate and contribute to mobilizations against neo-liberal globalization.
They must introduce LGBT perspectives into different struggles for political, social and economical change, rejecting pressures to postpone specific LGBT struggles in the name of any ’structural issue’. No structural change will be complete if the structures of sexual oppression, which affect all human beings, are left untouched.
14 Immigrants and black people need to be welcomed and included in lesbian/gay organizations in imperialist countries. This will require a conscious fight against racism in these organizations. In addition we support black and immigrant LGBTs’ own, autonomous self-organization within minority communities characterized by particular, multiple forms of oppression and discrimination. We will permanently seek alliances with them without seeking to impose a model of emancipation on them. We will oppose the use of the issue of lesbian/gay rights to stigmatize Muslim immigrants in the context of the ’war on terrorism’, emphasizing the rise of self-organization among LGBTs of Muslim origin and the indigenous homoerotic traditions of the Islamic world. The existence of links between LGBT immigrant groups and their members’ countries of origin (through Internet, visits, etc.) has also made possible concrete, international solidarity actions, and can sometimes facilitate the creation of LGBT groups in dependent countries. 18 Transgender people - those who do not fit into the hegemonic two-gender system, including cross-dressers, drag kings and queens, transsexuals, people who do not identify with a gender, and many others whose identities are rooted in indigenous cultures - are often among the most oppressed people with same-sex sexualities. In fact many people, whatever their sexuality, are oppressed because they do not fully conform to gender norms; in particular, men who are seen as ’effeminate’ sometimes experience forms of discrimination common to women. Transgender people also have a long history of fighting back against their oppression. ’Hijras’ in Pakistan and ’waria’ in Indonesia organized for their rights in the 1960s before European and North American lesbian/ gay liberation movements were founded. Puerto Rican ’drag queens’ (’locas’) were among the first to fight back against the police in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York. As movements for lesbian/gay rights have gained respectability and consolidated reformist perspectives, however, transgendered people have been excluded, ignored, marginalized and treated as an embarrassment. We support the efforts of transgendered people to resist their marginalization, organize themselves independently, and win full inclusion in lesbian/ gay movements. Transgendered people have needs and demands of specific importance to them, which lesbian/gay movements should take up. They are often particularly likely to earn their living in the sex trade, be discriminated against when they look for other kinds of work, and be harassed and attacked by police and thugs. We defend their rights to respect, safety, and equal rights to housing and employment. They also suffer from the refusal of the authorities to recognize their gender identity in a very wide range of circumstances. While we recognize the need to classify people at times according to sex so that women can organize against their own oppression, we question the impulse to register people’s sex routinely on every form and for every irrelevant purpose. We reject the forced subjection of transgendered people as well as of men and women in general to socially and biologically stereotyped categories of masculinity and femininity (manifest for example in school/job dress codes, mutilation of hermaphroditic babies, hormone treatments for teenagers with so-called ’gender-inappropriate behaviour’, and formal lessons in sex-stereotyped behaviour for transsexuals). We defend the right of every person to fully develop her/his individual personality. Transgender people should have the right to such medical care as they deem appropriate, including so-called ’sex reassignment surgeries’, hormone treatments and psychotherapy. They should have the right to health insurance coverage for such treatment, and to obtain appropriate changes in their documentation with or without surgery. 19 We conceive of lesbian/ gay movements as broadly inclusive movements bringing together all those who wish to live freely their same-sex sexualities and love. In different countries and cultures they may include people involved in a great variety of relationships and ways of life who may identify in any number of ways. We are opposed to any conception of lesbian/gay movements that limits or conditions participation in them according to some standard of exclusive homosexuality. In many countries and cultures men in particular often have sexual contacts with other men while outwardly conforming to cultural expectations of masculinity, fulfilling the family roles expected of men, and not identifying publicly or even privately as gay or as bisexual. In AIDS organizing in some countries such men are identified simply as ’Men who have Sex with Men’. One issue in this situation that has led to much tension is when people who do not identify as LGBT but have same-sex relationships treat their same-sex partners with disrespect as a result of their internalization of heterosexism. An important first step towards sexual liberation in this situation is for such men - or women - to treat their sexual partners who do identify as lesbian, gay or transgendered with respect and solidarity. A further positive step is for such people to support or even join lesbian/gay movements, however they may define their sexual identities in the process. In some countries and circumstances bisexuals or other sexual minorities may choose to organize themselves autonomously, either inside or outside lesbian/gay movements, either around issues of specific interest to them or around broader issues such as AIDS, violence or diversity. We support their right and respect their choice to do so, while continuing to work towards the broadest possible alliance of all the sexually oppressed. Bisexuals can find themselves isolated inside heterosexual society as well as lesbian/gay communities. Their sexual orientation often permits them to go unnoticed or appear ’normal’ to society in general, and for their same-sex sexuality not to be apparent or to be considered merely ’experimental’. It is a step forward when bisexuals try to break with this invisibility - to ’come out’ as bisexual - and to have their sexual orientation recognized and accepted as a legitimate expression of the diversity that exists in lesbian/gay communities and in human sexuality. This view that coming out is a positive stance is the same that we take for lesbians and gay men. Tensions that exist in the movement between people with different sexual identities can best be overcome by the building of an inclusive movement and the fight against heterosexism.