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Issue #1737      June 29, 2016

Orlando and beyond

On June 12, a gunman entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, murdering 49 people and injuring a further 53. Since this terrifying attack on the queer community various political leaders both within the United States of America and Australia have come out and condemned the attack while using the event as a catalyst to try and stoke the fires of racism and Islamophobia in order to justify the continuation and expansion of the state’s military operations in the Middle East, and police control on the domestic front.

What needs to be remembered, however, is that violence and hate is not born in a vacuum. It is raised and cultivated by the political, economic and social conditions of the society that a person lives in. Violence against LGBT people is one of the manifestations of bigotry and discrimination. The capitalist system which we live in is responsible for poverty, homelessness, and job discrimination. Understanding the intersections between our class struggle as well as our sexuality and gender struggles is crucial for LGBT liberation.

Mere assimilation into the system will not solve the endemic crisis facing our communities. We have seen with people of colour being assimilated into positions of power, such as Barack Obama, that the underlying system of exploitation remains in place. In the 21st century the African-American population is over-represented in prison statistics, homelessness, and poverty. Aboriginal people in Australia face similar incarceration rates, poverty, and inequality in life expectancy.

In the USA, 1 out of every 5 transgender people are homeless and it is estimated that between 20% to 40% of homeless people are of a gender or sexual minority, despite estimates that indicate only 10% of the population are gay. For people of colour who are queer, the statistics are even worse.

In Australia these statistics are mirrored in terms of housing discrimination and employment discrimination, where workers have been fired, abused, harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against during the hiring process. Politicians demonise our communities and deny us legal equality, while the media dehumanise our communities and deny us our voice.

The differences between people were solidified into a coherent ideology of discrimination and division with the advent of capitalism, which stratified people into binary gender systems and heterosexual relations, also known as the origin of the family. It is important that as a community we do not allow the politicians or the capitalist media to stoke the fires of Islamophobia and racism to justify their wars and attacks on personal freedoms. We must instead recognise the origins of our exploitation and discrimination, and work towards socialist freedom.

Next article – Culture & Life: The Election and after

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