LGBT CALL TO THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM IN FLORENCE
The accelerating neoliberal and right-wing offensive in Europe is a threat to our lives as LGBT people. But resistance movements against neoliberal globalization hardly take us into account, and our organizations are rarely present in broader coalitions against neoliberalism and the right. This situation has to change, and fast!
Many national LGBT associations work together through ILGA-Europe to influence legislation and regulations. LGBTs from across Europe march together each year at Europride. But we need to do more! We need to broaden our movement's range of action on many social issues and make sure that LGBT voices are heard in broader debates.
We invite all LGBT associations in Europe to come to Florence during the days when the European Social Forum is meeting, to discuss together and lay the basis for more intensive, lasting cooperation.
Our starting point is the experience and thinking on participatory democracy that took place at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, which provides us with an unprecedented insight. The movement can propose to use instruments of direct participation in every area of society where LGBT people are to be found. Too often in fact decisions of vital concern to us are still made without taking our experience and opinions into account, by cabinets, parties and parliaments in which our associations are unrepresented. For example, cuts in social services and privatisations are a special threat to LGBT people, inasmuch as they shift basic social responsibilities onto families (while our families of origin often do not support us, and we do not have the right to form new ones). As a result the LGBT community, and lesbians in particular, contrary to what is generally maintained, often live in conditions of greater hardship and insecurity than heterosexuals.
This same sphere includes the defense of public health and the demand for the right to healthcare for all, namely the decisive struggle for access to HIV/AIDS treatments in which movements in countries around the world are joining together.
The gains won by working people during a century of struggle continue to be denied to LGBT people. Cases of sacking without just cause and of harassment at work on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity are sadly common throughout Europe. This is yet another reason why we must fight to eliminate casualized employment and increase rights for all workers.
The international lesbian/gay trade union conferences four years ago in Amsterdam and this year in Sydney are big steps forward in internationalizing LGBT trade union struggles. Yet still too little has been done to coordinate work on a European level. The European Trade Union Confederation has endorsed the ESF in Florence; we invite all LGBT trade unionists to be there to call on it for support and to build European networks. We note in this connection that trade union activity has many benefits, not only in securing rights and stimulating alliances among oppressed groups while respecting each group's right to self-determination, but also in encouraging greater visibility on the part of LGBT workers, which serves both to enhance our personal dignity and to challenge the heterosexist taboo that is still widespread and deeply rooted in society.
For all these reasons we insist on the importance of an international battle for anti-discriminatory legislation, which still does not exist in most of the world's countries.
We propose, in alliance with the women's movement, to develop a critique of the monolithic model of the hetero-patriarchal family. This family is portrayed as a protective nest for all young people, to whom the prospect of economic independence is denied (through casualized work, unemployment and denial of minimal social benefits). Yet too often it is a site of violence and silencing for young people who do not conform to the dominant model. Rejection of transgender people is especially virulent: they experience discrimination not only in families and society, but also too often even in lesbian/gay milieux. Same-sex partnership rights are being won in a number of European countries. But in no country are we treated fully equally. Particularly when it comes to parenthood; nowhere are female co-mothers guaranteed the same rights as heterosexual married couples, and for men the situation is even more unequal. Access to artificial insemination is under attack in one country after another. We need to fight together against these forms of discrimination!
LGBT immigrants are increasingly organising in their own name. Not only do they have to contend with the rise of a right-wing "pro-family" agenda that excludes and marginalizes them; if they are of Muslim origin they are also faced with the demonisation of Islam now being used to justify the "war on terrorism". The instrumentalisation of gay rights, used even by the right as a weapon against Muslim immigrants, is particularly insidious. So it is crucial to build an alliance between LGBT immigrant groups and groups working in "Third World" countries, in particular to support the cause of those living in countries where homosexuality is a crime. It is urgently necessary to extend the right of asylum to people persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Other key points are the defense of public, secular education accessible to all, which teaches about diversity and supports the development of free expression, including sexual expression, of the younger generation. This requires support and encouragement from LGBT working groups in the schools and universities, which can ensure the quality of the pedagogical programmes and guard against any cases of open or hidden discrimination. Crucial as well is the fight for a secular society, against religious fundamentalisms and to resist attacks by the churches (beginning with the Catholic Church) on the rights and lives of those who do not accept their morality.
We are for self-organisation of LGBT inside democratic parties and in all associations fighting against neoliberalism, so that the LGBT movement's demands become slogans of the movement as a whole.
LGBTs should make our voices heard!
Endorsed by :
Queering Sapienza - Gruppo LGBT dell'Università di Roma (Italy)
MIT - Movimento Identità Transessuale (Italy)
Gruppo di Lavoro www.gayroma.it (Italy)
GLO Milano - Gruppo di Liberazione Omosessuale (Italy)
MOS - Movimento Omosessuale Sardo (Italy)
Associazione Ireos (Florence - Italy)
Arcigay Arcilesbica Pianeta Urano (Verona - Italy)
Centro Studi gaylesbicotransqueer (Italy)
Open Mind - Centro di Iniziativa GLBT (Catania -Italy)
Circolo Tralaltro - Arcigay Padova (Italy)
Pasolini Veneto - Coordinamento GLBT Comunisti Italyni (Italy)
Pasolini - Coordinamento G.L.B.T.T. dei Comunisti Italyni (Italy)
Circolo di Cultura gay e Lesbica Arcigay Dedalo (Venice - Italy)
Opus Gay (Portugal)
Grupo de Trabalho Homossexual do PSR (Portugal)
Portugal Gay (Portugal)
Grupo Oeste Gay (Portugal)
NÓS - Movimento Pela Liberdade Sexual (Portugal)
Não Te Prives - Grupo de Defesa dos Direitos Sexuais (Portugal)
Clube Safo (Portugal)
BOLOBOLO Colectivo de lesbianas y gays de Toledo (Spain)
Coisa do Género - Gruppo LGBT dell'Università di Lisbona (Portugal)
KONTRA - Gruppo Lesbico (Croatia)
FELGT - Federacion Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays e Transexuales (Spain)