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HTLGI2013 Beyond Equality

May 28, 2013

My second and last day dawns with heavy rain which will persist throughout the day.  Pathways become mud baths and the organisers finally give up trying to make us queue outside the tents for a programmed start.  Every chairperson apologies for the noise of rain on canvass which is the background to every talk.

First up for me is the campaigner Peter Tatchell.  Its a surprisingly small audience for what is a considered and valuable presentation on the dangers of confusing the acquisition of rights and equality with real change.  

I got a chance to ask an extended question here.   I argued that gaining rights before you have changed attitudes means that attitudinal change is delayed.  You also get accommodation in the face of threat such as the British Aristocracy responded to the French Revolution by allowing extended franchise etc in the 1832 Reform Act and others.  I gave other illustrations such as the technical but not real abolition of slavery.  I also raised the issue of a shift from racism to culturalism and my idea that we should link government funding of education to spending time overseas.  The idea here is to change people's attitudes before they get entrained within the higher education system.

He broadly agreed with several other examples of premature success which means the campaigning energy subsides.   His main solution is to challenge the idea, I am less sure.  Better to put people in a position where those ideas cannot sustain themselves.  And yes I have changed a lot since the 70s when I would probably have been with him on the lets tell them they are wrong approach.

 

MY NOTES

Why rights are not enough using gay and transgender issues but applies more generally
At first sight who could deny the value of equality but he takes a more scpetical view that although its important by itself it is nt sufficient.  In LPBG now on) quality has become a mantra, in this day it was about liberation there was no mention of equality.  Wanted to create a new framework for society as a whole.  The shift happnened in the 1990s with a move into the main stream, greater acceptance by establishment meant greater compromise by the movement.  More about fitting in with the heterosexual consensus.

Today, in LPBG its all about equal rights and law reform, no questioning of society a shift to a resignation and acceptance and fitting in not transformation.  Means a loss of confidence.  The dominant status quo was devised by the heterosexual majority so conformity/equality (the same thing) means fitting in with the previaling agenda.  Means submission and conformity.

Changing the law is only one aspect also have to change attitudes.  There is still racism despite legal changes so formal legal equality does not equate with equality in practice.    There is an issue beyond homphobia and transphobia to what he calls erotophoebia, anglo saxon puritanism, feat of sex has been aroud for a long time.  Issue of under age sex is one, most have them from 14 onwards not 16 yet our attitude in law sees it as criminal.  Consenting sex between two young people of 15 are committing an offence punishable by imprisonment and placement on the sex offenders register. 

Issue about censorship of sexual imagery.  Same sex porn was more liable to prosecution where equivalent heterosexual porn was not.   He is opposed to porn which arises from violence etc.  but for co-equal, erotic not abusive  is OK.  Norms and attitudes in society are an issue.   Sex education lessons also an issue, there is meant to be a LPBG reference but its rare but it is there.   However despite this the real issue is the whole education which is about biology, not about relationships, what you should do if abused etc. etc   No information or education provided. Netherlands has a culture by which its my body I have a right to do with it what i want and no one has a right to invade it without my permission  Means Netherlands has fewer teenage pregnacy and abortion that UK (7&11 times but he is not sure which way round).  Education needs to give people the confidence to stand up to and report abuse.

These drawbacks also apply to women not just LPBG.  There are still class ceilings and concrete walls.  WOmen have to compete on male terms.  Likewise with black and ethnic majority people – only OK if assimilate into the dominant culture.  So this is a broader issue about experience.  The equal rights agenda is often not about being able to get on with things it requires a degree of conformism to the way a particular organisation operates.   Equal earnings in law but still major differences. 

As a result of oppression the LPBG created its own sub-culture but as we have achieved greater acceptance and equality many aspects of that sub-culture are dying out.  need an acknowledgement that minority cultures have something to give the majority.  Lesbians has had to be more assertive and that has given them a different perspective on women's place.  So many are in the vanguard ofthe feminist   movement.  A disproportionate number of gay men are in caring and creative professions, they bring a different perspective to masculinity.  The Gay model is having an effect or influence on mainstream masculine culture – metro-sexual etc.  Pressure to conform on gay pride parades etc in order to get right to marry, adopt children etc. etc.  So self policing based on desire to conform. 

Nouveau gay reformism seems to involve an abandonment of any criticism of heterosexual culture, discernment is abandoned in favour of compliance.  A lot of people in LBPG are hetero-homos, trapped in a gay body. 

Need to achieve a new form of equality where all people can find their lives transformed for the better

 

QUESTIONS


Existential equality is more difficult than legal equality.  Hunter gatherers had equality to survive while in our hierarchical society we compete.  Respect would be more valuable.

How do we recapture the energy of the original liberation movement so how do we do the consciousness raising

A lot of battles have been lost and there is frustration.  History moves in waves and cycles, the 60s and early 70s may not repeat for some time.  Maybe if we hit a major economic catastrophe then there would be a new radicalism but it could be the far right.

How do you think people find the voice and power to question things

Response: Through organisations that raise these issues.

You haven't mentioned the Church, is it your greatest adversity

There are wonderful supportive people of faith   58% of people of faith support same sex marriage.  Organised religion is the single greatest threat to human rights across the board. 

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