Build united struggle against homophobia, sexism and capitalism
In July, MPs at Westminster voted to introduce same-sex marriage and decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland if the Stormont Assembly is not restored by 22nd October. This is potentially a huge step forward which reflects the aspirations of the majority of people here, brought to bear through mass demonstrations and civil disobedience, like the abortion pill bus organised by socialist-feminist group ROSA and Women on Web. Undoubtedly, the historic referendum victories on marriage equality and abortion rights in the South, which saw huge numbers of people mobilise for change, also had an impact in changing the debate around these issues.
Place no faith in the political establishment
While this is an historic victory, we cannot be complacent. If abortion is decriminalised in October, new guidelines for medical professionals are to be put in place by March next year. We need to ensure these guidelines do not create new barriers, but instead guarantee free and accessible abortion services on the NHS. We must be ready to resist any attempt to row back on these changes, either from Westminster or a restored Stormont administration. Boris Johnson has maintained that these are devolved matters and is reliant on the DUP to prop up his government. Meanwhile, it is clear these issues are not really ‘red lines’ for Sinn Féin, who have a long history of opposing abortion rights and only supported access up to 12 weeks on request after the referendum victory in the South.
Build a united struggle and build on these victories
We need to keep up the pressure to ensure marriage equality and full reproductive rights become a reality and are secured for the long-term. In the coming months, mass demonstrations should be called in support of these demands. The trade union movement – representing 250,000 workers here – should be front and centre in this campaign, alongside LGBT+, pro-choice and women’s groups. To build on this victory, the movement should be broadened out to challenge all manifestations of homophobia, transphobia and sexism, to fight for access to services and against the austerity policies of the political establishment which have a disproportionate impact on LGBT+ people and women.
Fight for a socialist future free from hatred and division
Homophobia, transphobia, sexism, sectarianism and all forms of bigotry are rooted in the divide-and-rule nature of the capitalist system and grow out of the poverty, alienation and division it creates. Across the world, we see right-wing forces whipping up hatred, scapegoating minorities and attacking the rights of women and LGBT+ people in order to divert attention away from the rotten, profit-driven and destructive system they represent. To consign bigotry to the dustbin of history, we need to build solidarity between the working class and all oppressed groups in the struggle for a socialist future, where society’s massive wealth and resources are used in a planned and democratic way to meet the needs of people and planet, not create profit for a tiny elite.
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