The horrific murders of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee in Sligo this week — crimes that appear to be motivated by an insidious hatred of LGBTQ people — have provoked an outpouring of grief, disgust, and anger. The Socialist Party sends our deepest condolences and solidarity to the families and friends of Aidan and Michael. Likewise to the LGBTQ community and the people of Sligo, who will keenly feel the impact of these heinous events.
Such violence, and the homophobic hatred that motivated it, have no place in our society and cannot be tolerated. Yet it remains an all too common occurrence.
A frightening spate of attacks
Aidan and Michael’s killings took place the same week as the brutal beating of Evan Somers, in Dublin City centre, after being subjected to verbal homophobic slurs. The attack took place near The George and the Spar adjacent to it.
This case came to light after Evan courageously spoke about it on social media with a picture of his injuries, written from his hospital bed:
“I felt like it needed to be seen instead of hidden away because this is the reality of what so many LGBTQ+ people go through regularly & if it makes you uncomfortable, maybe it should.”
Sadly, living in fear of verbal and/or physical attacks is an everyday reality for LGBTQ people. A survey in 2020 found that six out of ten LGBTQ people avoided holding hands in public, and three out of ten avoided certain locations for fear of being assaulted.
Alongside the prevalence of damaging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia themselves, the feeling of being forced to exercise such caution for fear of assault, inevitably exacerbates the mental health crisis among LGBTQ community. The trans rights group TENI reported that 93% of trans young people are struggling with anxiety, stress and depression.
Homophobia can exist in all communities and should always be opposed. We must reject any attempts to use these terrible crimes to stir up racist division. This will do nothing to stop violence against LGBTQ+ people and will serve the agenda of the far-right who push both racist and homophobic hatred.
The hold of backward institutions
It’s very clear that despite the many important changes won by movements of LGBTQ+ people and the broad support and solidarity that was shown in the marriage equality referendum, we still live in a society plagued by bigotry and hatred against LGBTQ+ people.
Despite the progressive rhetoric of governments and establishment politicians generally, they remain unwilling to introduce a LGBTQ inclusive and consent-based sex education in schools — a vital policy to challenge homophobia and transphobia in society. Doing so would mean ending the ability of schools with a Catholic or other religious ‘’ethos’’ to veto sex education on the grounds of their homophobia or other prejudices. It would also pose the need for separation of church and state and ending Catholic Church control over schools, hospitals and all public services.
A system based on discrimination
Across the world, we can see a dangerous new right-wing and reactionary offensive against LGBTQ+ people. Hard-right leaders such as Trump in the US, Victor Orban in Hungary and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil have all spewed homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, and have sought to roll back LGBTQ+ rights.
Just this week in Britain, the Tory Party has consciously excluded trans people from their plans to ban conversion therapy, in response to a growing campaign of transphobia coming from the media and political establishment. In the US, we are seeing the introduction of a series of homophobic “Don’t Say Gay” laws. China’s one-party capitalist dictatorship has also gone on an offensive against LGBTQ rights and the right to bodily autonomy.
We need real liberation
This wave of attacks on LGBTQ+ rights is rooted in a capitalist system that is crisis-ridden and feeding off every form of prejudice and oppression to keep itself going. The inequalities of capitalism, and the vile prejudices used to justify them, are part of the system’s DNA.
The marriage equality referendum and the movement for repeal and abortion rights showed that a movement from below, uniting LGBTQ+ people, young people, women and working-class people generally can win change. We need a movement that can build an alternative to a society where such acts of homophobic violence can happen. The multi-gendered, multi-racial working class, if organised, can bring about such an alternative through a struggle that unites all the oppressed.
Such a movement could bring an end to the capitalist system which has homophobia, sexism and racism embedded at its core. A democratic socialist society, in which society’s abundant wealth and resources are commonly owned and controlled, and utilised in the interests of all, could lay the basis for a world based on equality, solidarity and real liberation.