Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, Peter Purton, the TUC’s LGBT officer says the LGBT community should respond to “government-created austerity” as part of the Pride movement in 2013.
LGBT Pride: what does it stand for in 2013? The early Pride marches in Britain were protests against oppression and we had a lot to protest against. Now, four decades on, we may be able to get married in the near future. So it’s right that we celebrate. Our position as LGBT people has been transformed and for the younger generation, the struggles that won our legal rights and widespread social acceptance are just ancient history.
But if a newly engaged lesbian couple decide to honeymoon afterwards in large parts of the world, they had better be careful: not just of anti-LGB laws (like those recently introduced in Russia), but also of violent social condemnation of same-sex relationships. For trans people it is no better, and we still have to commemorate hundreds of transphobic murders every year.
Even in Britain, where recent surveys suggest that three quarters of the population accept homosexuality (incidentally, that leaves us behind Spain, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic and France), earlier this year we witnessed the appalling press onslaught on a trans primary school teacher.
The reality is that social change does not take place in a vacuum and while you can separate out LGBT rights from what is going on in the rest of the country for a while, it will catch up with us eventually.
Our engaged lesbian couple may decide they want to have a big wedding. They still can’t do it in church, of course, even if their local vicar would like to officiate. Maybe they’re secular so a registry office is fine. But what if one partner works in the public sector: she hasn’t had a pay rise for three years, and has also agreed to work fewer hours in order to keep the job, which means that life is more difficult each year because inflation hasn’t stopped in the meantime.
And the other is working in the private sector, but she is on a zero hours contract and doesn’t know from week to week how much she will bring home that week. Makes planning for the costs of the wedding a bit tricky. Of course, they are better off than being one of the two and a half million people without a job at all, or the quarter of young people who’ve never had one. LGBT people just like everyone else are living through a prolonged period of government-created austerity that is failing to achieve economic recovery – in fact, as many experts now accept, is making it worse.
Meanwhile, the public services that we all need – particularly the NHS – are suffering.
When we marched for our liberation in the 1970s, it was to change society for the better. Making a better society – the trade unions are campaigning for a future that works for all of us – is a challenge to which the LGBT communities should respond when we celebrate Pride in 2013.
Peter Purton, LGBT policy officer at Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC).
As with all comment pieces, the views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of PinkNews