Pride 2014 Statement from the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League
The Pride 2014 summer season is here, including World Pride in Toronto and hundreds of events in cities and towns right across Canada! This is a time to celebrate the gains by LGBTTQ+ communities, and to reflect on the challenges we still face. The past year has seen some remarkable victories, but also ominous signals of a dangerous pushback from anti‑equality forces.. More and more countries are recognizing same‑sex marriage and other fundamental LGBTTQ+ rights. In Canada, the struggle to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender expression/identity has seen new progress.
The latest major victory was the adoption of an updated LGBTTQ+ policy by the Vancouver School Board, after a vitriolic hate campaign was defeated by VSB trustees and the new, broad‑based BC Safer Schools Coalition.
The continued expansion of queer‑positive environments in the popular media, the labour movement and other areas of society is particularly significant. In the arena of professional sports, the coming out by Michael Sam, drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, and the overwhelming rejection of a few bigoted reactions, signals that yet another barrier is being shattered. The many legal, political and cultural victories of recent years are the hard‑won results of decades of efforts by the LGBTTQ+ community and our allies.
But fear and hatred have not disappeared, as seen by last year’s anti‑equality protests in France, the Russian Parliament’s ban on so‑called “propaganda of non‑traditional sexual relations”, and attempts to reverse same‑sex marriage rights in some U.S. states. On June 14, Ulrike Lunacek, Co‑President of the LGBT group in the European Parliament, was assaulted by a bigot while being interviewed at the Vienna Pride parade. In many countries, gays, lesbians, and trans* people still face threats, violence, imprisonment or even death. But the lie that equality rights can only be won in the wealthy capitalist west is shattered by progress in countries such as Cuba, Brazil, and South Africa, and by the reality that homophobic and racist views are being deliberately exported from North America and Europe. This year’s World Pride in Toronto will include events with Mariela Castro Espin, the director of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education, who has led the movement for gay, lesbian and trans* rights in Cuba, showing that “machismo” and other anti‑equality ideologies can be overcome with the support of progressive governments.
Here in Canada, we cannot be complacent, as seen by attempts in British Columbia to reverse pro‑LGBTTQ+ policies at the school district level. Anti‑equality forces have powerful friends in Harper’s Conservative caucus, despite their hypocritical condemnation of Russia’s anti‑gay laws. For example, the Conservative‑dominated Senate has still not given approval to Bill C‑279, which amends the Canadian Human Rights Code by adding “gender identity” to hate‑crime legislation provisions. Canada’s corporate‑driven “austerity” cuts to social spending, and the attacks on unions, heavily impact women, Aboriginal peoples, and racialized groups, and make it far more difficult to implement significant advances towards equality. The most marginalized members of the LGBTTQ+ community, including trans*, two‑spirited, racialized queers and young people, are those hardest‑hit by the austerity cuts.
The trans* community is still struggling to achieve many equality rights. This is not a “marginal” issue; trans* people are 10% of the LGBTTQ+ population, and face huge medical costs, higher unemployment, less access to housing, widespread intimidation at work, and lack of legal protections. Right‑wing forces continue to scapegoat the LGBTTQ+ community along with racialised groups and other minorities.
Homophobia and transphobia, just like racism, sexism, and national chauvinism, are weapons to divide working people in the struggle for a better world. Today, the ruling class uses the economic crisis, the so‑called “war on terror”, and now Stephen Harper’s Cold War anti‑communism to justify the assault on workers’ rights and social equality. But “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Our unity will be strengthened by adopting full legal and political protections for sexual orientation and gender expression, and gender identity.
This unity is a vital element of the broad democratic and social resistance against the corporate agenda of austerity and war. Together, we must build a powerful movement to put people’s needs before corporate greed. Our LGBTTQ+ community must be a key player in a efforts to build a “People’s Coalition” of labour, Aboriginal peoples, youth and students, women, seniors, farmers, immigrant and racialized communities, environmentalists, peace activists and many other allies.
Ultimately, mass resistance in our communities and workplaces, in the streets and at the ballot box, can defeat the Harper Tories and help open the door to a “people not profits” government. The goal of the Communist Party is to win fuller social equality and genuine people’s power in a socialist Canada, where our economy and resources will be socially owned and democratically controlled.
This historic advance will make it possible to eradicate the intersecting forms of exploitation and oppression which we face today. We urge you to join the Communist Party and the Young Communist League to achieve a liberated society in which, as Karl Marx said, “the freedom of each is the condition for the freedom of all.”
(NOTE: In this statement, the acronym LGBTTQ+ refers to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, two‑spirited, queer and others.” The debate over this and other terms continues.)