The Future of LGBT Labour

I joined the Labour Party in 2008. This was before I was prepared to accept my sexuality. I have now come to realise that it was joining the Labour Party, and learning of all of Labour’s achievements in Government in striving for sexual equality that helped me on my way in accepting myself. Being proudly gay and proudly a member of the Labour Party can and should be mutually reinforcing. I will always be thankful to Labour for this.

Whilst we can look back proudly on all Labour achieved in equality – and there is no need to list these here – ending legislative homophobia is not the same as ending homophobia engrained in society. Top-down measures can only work so far. Greater acceptance of homosexuality as being ‘equal but different’ to heterosexuality can only be achieved through increased exposure of what it is to be gay, i.e., being capable of loving someone of the same sex. At its most basic this can include couples walking down the street holding hands. Unfortunately, we are not yet at a stage where this simple statement of homosexuality is uncontroversial. There is still a need for gay couples to act as pioneers. I can speak from experience that some members of society are not ready to witness such sights.

Labour is at its best when fighting for the rights of minorities within society, championing the fundamental need for equality. However, whilst I am well aware that homophobia remains an issue, the greatest issue of inequality relates to income. The lack of equal opportunity in the world of work adversely affects women, the BME community and disabled people more than it does the LGBT community. With this in mind, the LGBT Labour needs to rally round and support those who also fall under the umbrella term ‘minority’. Liberation Campaigns and caucuses are vital in recognising and celebrating our differences (note the very discourse of the word ‘Pride’ in our annual Pride Marches, and the rightful presence of Labour at these marches), but our shared difficulties and experiences need to be at the forefront of our campaigns.

This is, I believe, should be the next step of LGBT Labour in Britain, standing up for the voiceless in society, speaking for those adversely affected by the Government’s draconian and ill-balanced cuts. Even if we do not self-define as members of a particular caucus, Labour needs to unite and continue the fight for equal opportunity for all.

By Dan Harrison, Outgoing BULS Chair


3 comments on “The Future of LGBT Labour

  1. labourluke says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It is imperative that we continue on the road to complete social as well as legal equality for LGBT people in this country, and Labour has been and should continue to be the driving force for that change. However sometimes I feel concerned that other aspects of inequality which construct individuals’ identities and life chances as much as sexuality, gender etc., such as material wealth and social capital, are in danger of being sidelined. Nothing irritates me more than those who say things like “it’s the white straight male who is being targeted now”, as that is absurd, however there is no reason why we cannot simultaneously pursue all types of inequality, and if our leaders are not careful, the disenfranchised unemployed (particularly the young), the ‘working-class’ and the so-called ‘underclass’ being ignored and undermined by this government will come back to bite us.

  2. hladavies says:

    What then do you make of Livingstone’s comments about the Tory party being “riddled” with homosexuals “just like everywhere else”?

  3. Dan Harrison says:

    @hladavies – Ken Livingstone has a proud record in securing LGBT rights during his time at the GLC, so much so that it was nicknamed the ‘Gay London Council’. His use of the word ‘riddled’ referred to closeted MPs (see for instance the case of David Laws). To accuse Ken of homophobia would be akin to accusing Peter Tatchell of it also. I will be proudly campaigning for Ken this Easter.

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