Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
From the Stonewall riots in 1969 to the present day, the rights and safety of the people in LGBTQ+ communities have had to be continuously upheld, contextualised and fought for.
A new report shows that in the last four years attacks on lesbians, gay people and bisexuals have dramatically increased. A common question I see on social media, often in response to street harassment, is: ‘How is this still happening in 2017?’ But, unfortunately, further progress is not inevitable simply because of the passing of time. A statement I would prefer is: ‘I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit.’
The findings, which are based on YouGov polling of more than 5,000 LGBT people in Britain and released by Stonewall, state that more than one in five LGBT people have been verbally or physically attacked due to their sexual orientation or gender identity in the last 12 months.
Trans people and people of colour are disproportionately affected, with two in five trans people experiencing hate crimes or incidents based on their gender identity, and one in three Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people. (This compares to one in five white LGBT people.)
In combating this almost 80 per cent increase of attacks in the last four years, it’s important we understand what’s going on. We have seen Theresa May’s Tory government condone homophobia, and we have seen heavy austerity hit LGBT services hard. So why would we surprised by an increase in attacks, as if these things aren’t connected?
You don’t have to look further than May’s election campaign. Firstly, their manifesto literally has nothing on LGBTQ+ rights – doesn’t even mention any version of the term. During the election she even went to an anti-gay church and called it ‘fantastic’.
Consider too that May voted against getting rid of of section 28, which banned the ‘celebration or promotion’ of homosexuality in the workplace and schools. She has also defended MPs who have made homophobic remarks.
Following May’s embarrassing election campaign, we were left with a hung parliament and now have a toxic deal between the the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The DUP, which is a far right political party in Northern Ireland, has a bad track record when it comes to gay rights. Ian Paisley Jr, the son of the party’s founder, has in the past called homosexuality ‘immoral, offensive and obnoxious’ and said he was repulsed by gays and lesbians. The DUP also led a campaign against the decriminalisation of homosexuality called Save Ulster from Sodomy.
This behaviour within the political sphere has real-life consequences for those within the communities that are being demonised, socially but also very materially. In 2015, it was reported that LGB youth homelessness in the UK made up a quarter of homeless young people.
The same report stated that, as only 3.3 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, LGB people are seven times over-represented among homeless young people. Not only is this not being addressed by central government, but LGBT homeless services are struggling to survive with many closing due to austerity cuts.
It’s important to emphasise the power of self-organisation in our communities against this increase in hate crimes and be wary of placing all our hopes on politicians and policymakers in bringing the change we want and need to see in society – though we shouldn’t ignore the damage they can do.
History has taught us that progress is not something we should expect, but something to fight for and uphold. It’s a harsh reality that as LGBTQ+ people we have to continue to fight for our rights and safety. But it is a reality nonetheless, and we shouldn’t allow the illusion of a socially liberal society to lull us into passivity.
Kennedy Walker currently works as a campaigns coordinator at a London-based student union and has been involved in Take Back The City and Demand The Impossible. He tweets @kwalkeronline
Michael Coates reviews a new film revealing the shocking state of housing inequality in the UK.
The vicious media campaign against trans people is part bigotry, part strategy, writes Roz Kaveney
Jon Trickett MP reports on 'Dickensian' levels of poverty and hardship felt across the UK.
Natasha King busts some myths around the No Borders debate
He was once a radical icon, but now he's a mouthpiece for racism and nationalism. Time to get off stage, writes Michael Calderbank
Consensus seems to have shifted, but austerity is far from over. The chancellor has committed us to yet more years of misery while the rich get richer, writes Richard Seymour.
Frustrated at the idea of another royal wedding? You're not alone. Joana Ramiro argues we should stop idealising a fundamentally undemocratic institution.
Liberal elites are using Russian interference to minimise their own political failures, writes Matt Turner
Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now argues that after years of colonial domination and dodgy trade deals, the UK must make amends and support Zimbabwe in this uncertain time.
Last month's mass far right demonstration can be linked to a toxic mix of government tolerance of fascism and neoliberalism on steroids. Ewa Jasiewicz investigates.
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke