In early February thousands of people took part in Melbourne’s annual Pride March. This march symbolises the efforts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community and a movement that has struggled for decades to win sexual equality and challenge homophobia.
But why is it that despite widespread support for the LGBTI community the Rudd government forbids marriage between same sex couples? The answer lies in the fact that both Labor and the Liberals see the ‘nuclear family’ as the cornerstone of the capitalist system. Oppression based on sexuality also stems from the needs of the ruling class in society.
Rather than promoting harmony, rulers benefit from creating divisions. Throughout the history of capitalism workers of different races, religions and sexualities have been turned against each other by bosses and the state, preventing them from working together to win progressive reforms.
Much in the way that Howard used the refugee issue to create a fear campaign which ultimately won him the 2001 election, establishment parties around the world try to stir up fear and create divisions in society by promoting so-called ‘family values’, usually always at the expense of the rights of the LGBTI community.
In Australia civil unions between same sex couples are legal in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, but full marriage rights equal to those available to heterosexual couples are denied. Kevin Rudd’s claim that Australia is not ready for same sex marriage shows just how out of touch the Labor Party are with average Australians, as polls have shown that more than 60% of Australians support same sex marriage.
By denying same sex couples the right to marry, Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party are promoting homophobic ideas and legitimising the oppression of the LGBTI community. Despite the gains made by the LGBTI community, homophobia is still rife in society. The bashing of LGBTI people is still a common occurrence, and suicide rates amongst same sex attracted youth have been found to be six times higher than the average.
Many other countries around the world have legalised same sex marriage. These countries include Belgium, South Africa, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. Several states within the USA also allow same sex marriage, and important reforms such as the repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, which prevented openly gay people from serving in the US military, are set to take place within the year. These victories, which have resulted from struggle, show that equal rights can be won.
The Socialist Party campaigns for same sex marriage and against all forms of oppression including homophobia. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity should be challenged at school, university and in workplaces. We call on trade unions and other progressive groups to support the campaign for same sex marriage. A mass campaign that includes workers and other people that are oppressed under capitalism is the best way to win equality for the LGBTI community.
By SP reporters