Unite to Defend and Strengthen LGBTQ2SI Rights! - Pride 2016 Statement from the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League

            The massacre in Orlando at the Pulse gay night club makes it clear that the struggle for the rights of LGBTQ2SI people is far from over. (NOTE: In this statement, the acronym “LGBTQ2SI” and the term “Queer” refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender variant, two-spirited, queer, questioning, intersex and others.)

            In the Queer community, a gay-bar is often the one place Queer folk feel safe and able to be ourselves. Pride marks the anniversary of a riot of resistance - Stonewall - defending gay-bars from police attacks. Pride marches and events have grown into global movement to assert human rights. Pride’s political significance cannot be forgotten.

            The Orlando shootings, the victims of which were mainly Latinx and Black members of the LGBTQ2SI community, must be seen within the context of the well-organized backlash by, in particular fundamentalist Christian, right wing groups against the gains made by the Queer movement. In the USA, reactionary laws are being passed to abolish the civil rights LGBTQ2SI people have won, and in particular attack trans rights.

            Presenting the Orlando massacre as another tragedy brought on by the problem of “Islamic extremism” ignores the fact that North America has a history of mass shootings and terrorist acts committed by those that grow up here in a racist, patriarchal, homophobic and transphobic culture that breeds these acts of extreme violence, which are most often committed by non-Muslims. The corporate media’s drive to use this homophobic hate crime to fuel the “War on Terror”, which has already cost between 1-2 million lives, also fails to seriously address the root causes of homophobia and transphobia here at home.

            Opposing homophobia and Islamophobia are part of the same struggle. Today, the economic crisis, the “ISIS threat”, and anti-communism are all invoked by the ruling class to justify their assault on workers’ rights and social equality. Among the most poisonous ideologies are homophobia and transphobia. Just like racism, sexism, and national chauvinism, these are intended to divide and undermine resistance to the corporate agenda of “trade deals,” raw materials extraction and exports, and militarism.

            Homophobia and transphobia seek to entrench the heterosexual, patriarchal family which is necessary for capitalism to police and maintain the gendered division of labour, and increase the rate of profits. The Communist Party of Canada rejects any argument which aims to restrict the legal definition of family to those based on male-female biological parental relationships.

            US and Canadian imperialism back the right wing forces that are intent on reversing the gains made by progressive governments in Latin America - often leaders in the global struggle for Queer Rights.

            Prime Minister Trudeau says he is feminist and pro-LGBTQ2SI yet his government, alongside the US, is destabilizing the Middle East, and secular Arab states such as Syria in particular, by supporting and arming reactionary and homophobic forces like the Saudi regime and some of the anti-government militias in Syria.

            The defeat of the Federal Conservatives last year, was a victory for the LGBTQ2SI movement, and may finally guarantee legal and human rights protection to trans and gender variant people across Canada – after a decade of Conservatives blocking such legislation.

            Bill C-16 would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include the terms 'gender identity' and 'gender expression." If passed, the legislation would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. It would also extend hate speech laws to include the two terms. Criminal laws would also be updated to make it a hate crime when someone is targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression, meaning judges would have to consider it as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.

            There is still much work to be done on this front, as the reactionary Conservative dominated Senate could still block the legislation. With the recent passing of Quebec Solidaire's welcome bill on trans rights, and the promise of further legislation by the Couillard Liberals, Quebec has joined the other provinces and territories in English-speaking Canada which have passed some legal and human rights protections for trans people, which is long overdue.

            The new Federal Liberal government, despite its more progressive social agenda, continues with the corporate-driven “austerity” cuts, and the attacks on labour, civil and democratic rights such as the security state laws (Bill C-51), introduced by previous Liberal and Tory governments. The Liberals are a party of big business and are continuing policies (such as the Trans Pacific Partnership) that negatively impact LGBTQ2SI people, women, Aboriginal peoples, and racialized groups, and undercut equality gains. Provincial governments - almost without exception – also continuing to drive the austerity agenda. The most marginalized members of the LGBTQ2SI community, including trans, two-spirited, racialized queers and young people, are those hardest-hit by the social program cutbacks.

            We believe that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Adopting full legal and political protections for sexual orientation and gender expression, and gender identity, and respect for the bodily diversity of intersex people, is urgently needed to strengthen working class unity.

            This unity is a vital element of the broad labour, democratic and social movement to put people’s needs before corporate greed, austerity and war. Our LGBTQ2SI 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.

            Mass resistance in our communities and workplaces, in the streets and at the ballot box, can defeat the parties of big business and open the door to a “people not profits” government. The goal of the Communist Party is to win 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 interweaving forms of exploitation and oppression which threaten our world 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.”

            The Communist Party and the Young Communist League demand:

· Strengthen and enforce hate crime legislation, no to all forms of transphobia, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia;

·Strengthen solidarity with trans people in North Carolina and elsewhere in North America against new transphobic legislation;

· Struggle to expand trans rights including the explicit protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in all Provincial and Territorial laws and human rights codes;

· Make “conversion therapy”, a pseudo-psychiatric or religious practice that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, illegal in all provinces;

· Expand the rights of LGBTQ2SI youth: end the two-tiered age of consent laws for queer youth and protect Intersex minors from non-consensual surgery respecting bodily diversity;

· End the homophobic and unscientific blood ban for gay men donating blood;

· Increase social services and housing support to meet the needs of the 25-40% of homeless youth that identify as LGBTQ;

· End the Federal and Provincial governments’ drive towards austerity, and big business’ move towards precarious part-time employment, which disproportionately affect LGBTQ2SI peoples who are amongst the hardest hit by social program cutbacks.

· Stop imperialism’s support of reactionary forces around the world. No to the coup in Brazil and interventions in Venezuela. Withdraw

(The above article is from the July 1-31, 2016, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)