Political economy and the gay backlash…

As you may know, I am currently taking a break from blogging – but I just wanted to do a quick blog on what I find to be an increasingly worrying political development. Of course, homophobia has existed for a long time – but recently, there seems to be something different and more forceful developing in society. As society is economically and politically attacked by the government, certain groups are being stigmatised, targeted and scapegoated as deflection from the effects of neoliberalism is attempted. I have talked about this in relation to disability numerous times before and more recently, feminism; it also seems to be increasingly true for homosexuals (which has many connections to the feminist movement).

The government announced what they see as a big leap forward in gay rights. I was there when Nick Clegg was asked (when I was a LibDem) about why homosexuals are prohibited from giving blood, his response was ambiguity given he wasn’t aware of such an ignorant policy. The government’s plan is to allow homosexuals to give blood only if they haven’t had sex for 10 years. Yes, 10 years. Now, for one, there aren’t many people these days that don’t have sex for 10 years. Secondly, how do you prove it? Thirdly, in my eyes it’s arguably worse than the ban outright as it’s like indirect sterilisation; it provides greater control of the state in people’s personal lives and it makes no logical sense given that all blood is screened and anyone can get AIDS – emphasising the truly prejudiced nature of the policy. It reflects a time when AIDS was seen as the ‘gay plague’ – where Regan and Thatcher failed to address the problems of AIDS until the heterosexual community looked threatened.

Whilst these cases may not be directly related, alongside stemming from other causes, it would be hard to deny the link to the political economy. In the 1980s the same thing happened, feminism and gay right groups were attacked, especially by the strong moralistic streak of the Thatcher-Regan era. But as in the 1980s, the gay movement and the related feminist movement grew in strength – queer theory/politics was developing, the third wave feminist movement was advancing from the second wave as part of the feminist movement reacted to the conservative backlash and leached into conservative/moralistic policies such as the anti-porn ordinance in the states.

In similar ways, the homosexual couple recently thrown out of a bar in Soho for kissing provoked a rather anarchist, reclaiming public space, style kiss in demonstration where protesters voiced their opposition to the sheer abbreviation of their rights as people. In a similar vein, Facebook told someone who posted a picture of two men kissing on their Facebook that they were in danger of  violating “Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”. Unbelievable. It was only the other day I was being tagged in pornography on Facebook, and it’s almost everyday one of my friends gets tagged in it – but are there any complaints? Any formal warnings from Facebook?

The current government’s plans only steer up hatred, especially in communities that have a history of oppression. However, this is not to undermine the ability of often marginalised communities’ ability to resist and protest. The ongoing discrimination requires consistent fight and the longer this government goes on the worse things are going to get. This government is intent on bringing back the ‘two sex’ model, ‘ideal’ nuclear family – its economic and social policies are attacking those who do not meet their outdated, backwards moralistic conception of a ‘good’ ‘normal’ person. However, they underestimate the backlash to their backlash, as have those before.


8 thoughts on “Political economy and the gay backlash…

  1. Great post.

    Ultimately it’s a blip in the tide of progress. History is on our side – from suffrage, slavery, and civil liberties (in the broad sense).

    However, we must remember that these things don’t just happen. They’re fought for. Blog posts like these are absolutely crucial in increasing awareness and maintaining the momentum.

  2. Thanks for the comment, I am glad you like it.

    I totally agree, it just feels like history is repeating itself (in Marx’s words “first as a tragedy, secondly as a farce”). It has just come to a point where there seems to be a new anti-homosexual, anti-ethnic group, anti-disabled, anti-feminist etc comment every day; it is hard to deny the underlying connections to political economy. But as you say, there are movements in the right direction, as there have been for decades – fundamentally however, I don’t think things will ever properly improve as long as we are subjected to the type of political society we find ourself within.

  3. Yes, but even if this government falls you are still within a larger global political system (Europe, UN etc) that is fundamentally neoliberal.

  4. Jay, I’d love to think the tide of history is streaming on towards a tolerant, inclusive society where this pathetic bigotry is swept away. BUT, history also shows that tides ebb as well as flow – there have been societies where homosexuality was fully accepted in one generation and then just a decade or two later were burning gay people at the stake. The ability for culture to shift towards intolerance is just as powerful as any currents in the opposite direction – for example, 18th century England was a place of pretty free love between people of all sexualities; but by the 1840s a series of court cases had repressed all this and put women in a very subservient role and banned gays (indeed, the term “gay” comes from a court case where a friend of the Prince Regent denied that he was committing an act of gross indecency by saying “We were just being gay.”)

    Progress cannot be taken as inevitable nor assured once it has been secured: take a look at the film “Agora” to see how one ancient society reverted from philosophical enquiry to bigotted mysticism in just a few short years. Pretium libertatis est vigilia

  5. It’s a sad world where degenerates can go about labeling other people as phobic because they don’t approve of homosexuality. Strange world indeed.

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