Stand against homophobic bigotry

“Homosexuality is not natural. My Christian beliefs tell me that it is an abomination and that is very clear. “I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn away from what they are engaged in. I’m happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around and become heterosexuals.” – Iris Robinson MP MLA (DUP) Iris Robinson’s recent homophobic remarks, in which she described homosexuality as an “abomination” and said gay people could be turned into heterosexuals through counselling, exposed again the bigoted nature of DUP politicians. But more importantly it has also drawn attention to the discrimination that the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) community still face in Northern Ireland.

Of course this is not the first time highflying DUP members have made homophobic remarks. Last year, Ian Paisley Junior referred to homosexuals as being “repulsive”.Robinson’s comments are even more disturbing in that they were said in connection with a homophobic attack on a gay man who was “left for dead” in Co. Antrim. According to the PSNI, reported homophobic attacks are sharply increasing. Robinson’s remarks have caused those in the LGBT community to feel more fearful of violent homophobic gangs who will feel encouraged by the MP’s message.

The comments also play on the vulnerability of individuals who for certain reasons, like religious background, feel uncomfortable coming out. Increasingly figures, like Robinson, on the Christian right have been advancing the idea that there is a “cure to being gay”. This takes a particularly brutal form in America where shock therapy is being used.

Politicians from the other main parties have been hesitant to speak out against Robinson’s comments. Sinn Fein have used the issue as part of a tit for tat point scoring with the DUP. The Alliance Party, while criticising her comments, however recently showed that they are not immune from homophobia when their three councillors in Lisburn voted to ban same sex civil partnership ceremonies in council buildings.

Also, there is very little provision for proper education in school on issues of sexuality because it does not fit the needs of big business which education is increasingly geared towards. This in particular contributes to the levels of homophobic bullying.

Those gay rights and support groups who are rightly repulsed by Robinson’s words have called for her resignation, for reform within the DUP and even the “outing” of gay DUP members as a means of reforming the DUP’s reactionary attitudes. Unfortunately this is a mistaken approach to fighting for equality. Homophobia is ultimately rooted in the capitalist system as a means of dividing workers and providing a scapegoat for capitalism’s failures. What is really needed is a mass movement linked with the broader struggles of workers to fight for a decent standard of living for all and freedom of consenting adults to have whatever relationship they wish (including marriage) without fear of been considered inferior or isolated. 

Only in a socialist society can LGBT people be truly liberated from inequality and discrimination.The Socialist Party has a proud record of fighting against homophobia and for workers unity. This includes organising against fascist groups who spread racist and homophobic material and are responsible for violent attacks. We also have a history of having a lively contingent on Gay Pride events and campaigning against homophobia. The sections of the Committee for a Workers International, which the Socialist Party is affiliated to, campaign for full rights for LGBT people in many countries and have been involved in organising defence against attacks from the far-right on Gay Pride events in Eastern Europe. If you agree that there needs to be a fightback against homophobia and capitalism, and want to fight for a socialist future, then join us today!


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