LGBTQ

Strajk! An interview with Ewa Pospieszynska

On 27th January, a near-total ban on abortion came into effect across Poland, three months after a ruling by the country ’s constitutional court. Poland already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, but the new law - which removed severe foetal abnormalities from the list of exemptions - was seen as totemic, and part of a more generalised assault by the ruling Law and Justice Party (or PiS - short for Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) against Poland’s democratic institutions and minorities. In response to it, over the course of October and November, gigantic demonstrations gripped the...

Feminism, Interrupted: a write-up

This write-up follows a discussion in Workers ’ Liberty’s socialist feminist reading group. Usually held in South London, the monthly reading group has been held online during the pandemic. To get involved, write to: womensfightback@workersliberty.org Feminism, Interrupted is the second book from Lola Olufemi, co-author of A FLY Girls Guide to University. A cross-between an introductory text and manifesto, the book is a collection of ten essays covering topics from trans rights and islamophobic misogyny to food and art. The first chapter, “Know your history”, reflects on a rich history of...

Cancel culture and trans rights

Much is said in the right-wing press about 'cancel culture'; the phenomenon of people facing a public backlash for things that they have said or done in the past. Cancel culture, what it is and how it operates, is laid out capably and convincingly by left-wing YouTuber Natalie Wynn, known as ContraPoints, in her video “Canceling”. In this she lays out the way in which cancel culture operates. A particular viewpoint or action (confirmed or alleged) by an individual or group is abstracted and essentialised into an often vague assertion about the character or nature of that individual or group...

Esther Roper, Eva Gore-Booth and "Urania"

Esther Roper and Eva Gore Booth had lived and worked together for twenty years when they, along with three others, launched their magazine Urania. It was 1916, the middle of the First World War. Less than three months earlier, 485 people had been killed in the Easter Rising in Dublin and Eva’s sister, Constance Markiewvicz, had escaped execution for her part in the rebellion on the grounds of her sex. Urania, however, was not an outlet for Esther and Eva’s anti-war activism. Nor was it a magazine targeting the tens of thousands of working class women they had organised with in the suffrage and...

China's first gay film

News of the Chinese Education Ministry’s ludicrous concern over the “feminisation” of Chinese boys brings to mind China’s first explicitly gay film, East Palace, West Palace, directed by Zhang Yuan in 1996. Homosexuality was legalised in the following year, but gays are still regularly harassed for supposed “hooliganism”. A-Lan, a gay writer, is attracted to a policeman, Xiao Shi, and intentionally gets arrested by him in a public toilet (the title refers to two toilets in Beijing where gay men meet). Xiao Shi interrogates A-Lan overnight in the police station. As he listens to the young...

Turkish government attacks LGBTI+ activists

The protests at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul have continued: at the beginning of this year, President Erdoğan appointed a puppet rector against the wishes of students and university workers. Much of the recent “culture war” around the protests has focused on LGBTI+ people. During an art show at the university, a piece of art showed the Kaaba (the large black cube in Mecca which is the final destination of the Hajj) alongside a rainbow flag. Students involved in this were arrested, and the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu called them “four LGBT perverts” on Twitter. The state also...

Big issues, clumsy film

Deepa Mehta’s coming-of-age tale of a gay Tamil boy growing up in 1970s Sri Lanka, and in the post-1983 civil war between the country’s Tamil minority and ruling Sinhalese majority, is an ambitious one, aiming to wrangle with some heavy politicised themes. It opens with a group of children from wealthy families playing happily, amongst them an eight year old Arjie playing dress-up as a bride with makeup. The tense family dynamic is established instantly by Arjie’s father’s disapproval of Arjie. He warns his wife against encouraging this “nonsense”. He is set up as the oppressive patriarchal...

It's a Sin: AIDS and the 1980s

The main characters in It’s A Sin (Channel Four), Russell T Davies’ five-part drama about the AIDS crisis in Britain through the eighties into the early nineties, are roughly my age. It describes, therefore, an experience I lived through (minor spoilers here). I remember vividly the first rumours of a disease killing gay men in America, the first time I heard the term "AIDS" (I was sitting in a freezing cold kitchen in Manchester). I remember the growing sense of dread; I remember - this must have been in 1984 - calculating (god knows on the basis of what) that I had a 1/50 chance of dying as...

Support the fight for trans rights in Singapore

• Please send your solidarity, particularly if you are an education worker or student. Sign or get your organisation to sign this international solidarity statement and retweet this thread by @kixes with the hashtag #FixSchoolsNotStudents Over five hundred teachers, nurses, counsellors, and social service workers have signed a statement demanding that the Ministry of Education in Singapore give support to transgender students in schools. The labour movement in Singapore is almost entirely co-opted by the National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) – a confederation of trade unions that owes its...

Fix schools, not students

Three people were arrested for protesting outside the Ministry of Education in Singapore on Tuesday 26 January. The Ministry has come under fire for telling a transgender student to reduce her hormone replacement therapy or face expulsion. Ashlee, the student, had previously been sent home for having long hair and not obeying the dress code. Gay sex is a crime in Singapore. An annual LGBTQ rights event, Pink Dot, has helped to educate people and exert mass pressure on the government. Students, teachers and school workers must join together to demand that schools be safe for LGBTQ students.

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