LGBT or not LGBT?

28 Jun

By Rohit K Dasgupta

Today at my CLP I lost the LGBT Officer post because a straight white man stood against me.

His statement did not have one sentence about LGBT campaigning. Those sharing homophobic content today clapped. There was mass walkout in disgust. I might actually be done. Over to you @UKLabour

How can someone who espoused homophobic views just today get to vote on who represents the LGBT community in our CLP? Tell me why those who have been homophobic & intimidated us – complaints of which were sent a year ago – are still in the party and can pass judgement on our lives?

A straight white man was voted by a straight majority GC to be the LGBT Officer. Tell me how the Labour Party is still the party for equality and social justice? Tell me why I shouldn’t tear up my card right now. Tell me why this CLP is still not under special measures @UKLabour.

As we left we were booed and asked to f*** off by several people? Who were they?

  1. Someone who compares Gay people to paedophiles!

D GgeEgXYAIMMQH

 

  1. Then there was another who tweets about traditional marriage and retweets Mufti Menk (a homophobic hate preacher).

  2. And of course, there was the one from today who shared videos about disrupting inclusive SRE in the borough & claimed his phone was stolen & other people shared it. @UKLabour, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t want to name & shame them until you deal with the complaints

D GgfDOW4AEXqNM

Finally the person who stood against me who doesn’t for once say how he self identifies in his statement or in his speech. This is what we are dealing with. How is he going to ensure a strong voice for LGBT people when every LGBT person left the room after his election in disgust.

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This was my 1 min speech. I am now on an overnight train to Scotland for a conference.

If someone told me five years ago we would be seeing a roll back of LGBT rights I would have laughed but with the rise of the far right that is exactly what is happening.

I grew up in India where being gay was criminalised until very recently- threats of arrest, threats of death and threats of physical violence is what has shaped my queer politics & I won’t cower.

I joined Labour ten years ago because we are the party of equality & social justice. During this time I have been a parliamentary candidates, a Euro candidate and elected a councillor.

Last year we became the first local authority to celebrate LGBT history month and fly the inclusive rainbow flag.

There are two big issues LGBT people currently face in this borough – racism & homophobia. For me they go hand in hand. As Audre Lorde said there are no single issue politics as we don’t lead single issue lives.

Being queer is more than an identity for me, it is my life. From fighting oppression to challenging injustice I will continue to not just be a political officer in this role but a street campaigner.

Please support me.

Come what may LGBT rights will need a voice in this borough & I alongside my fab 🏳️‍🌈 councillors & friends will continue that.

No threats can stop us. Starts next week✊🏾

 

Originally posted as a Twitter thread on Thursday 27 June 2019. Reproduced by permission

3 Responses to “LGBT or not LGBT?”

  1. Gill Hay June 28, 2019 at 12:21 #

    Whilst it sounds like a number of issues may have not been managed as well as they could have been at last night’s CLP, there are a few questions arising from this report from the meeting:
    Are we now expecting all LGBT+ people to come out now (despite many of the legal, social and personal reasons that might prevent that)? In which case it’s far more likely that middle class, white, cis men will have the privilege that enables that
    Are we expecting only LGBT+ people can take a role in tackling LGBT issues in the Labour Party? In which case what are allies supposed to do and how should they be involved in taking issues forward with people who may be less understanding or commited to tackling some or all aspects of anti-LGBT+ discrimination?
    Are we expecting anyone taking on an officer role at CLP level to not be subject to democratic elections?
    Are we expecting any of this not to be difficult, especially at a time when anti-LGBT+ sentiments are being exploited by the far-right and none of us are immune?
    Are we at risk of playing one or more communities off against others, enabling divide and rule, especially by publicising issues in ways that have the potential to divide further rather than considering how best to build trust and work together to tackle all aspects of discrimination?

  2. Gill Hay June 29, 2019 at 16:59 #

    Having now read many of the more than 700 replies to Dasgupta’s tweets in the first 48 hours after they were posted, there seem to be some more interesting questions to consider:
    Are there any particular circumstances now why LGBT+ rights have become such an issue in Newham for so many national allies to be offering their support to Dasgupta, when there hasn’t been anything like such support for LGBT+ people in Newham in the past?
    Does anyone standing as a Labour LGBT+ officer post need to now explicitly self-identify as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender person, bearing in mind Labour’s accepted self-identification for trans women in women officer posts & groups and supports national legislation on Gender Recognition acknowledging trans people as their preferred gender from the point they choose to self define and the spectrum of LGBT+ identities?
    Where does anyone on the spectrum(s) of LGBT+ identity (including genderfluid, queer and non-binary identities) does someone have to be to be considered appropriate to be a Labour LGBT officer? How should anyone be asked to demonstrate this?
    If someone is new to campaigning on some or all of the potential LGBT+ issues is that something that should figure in their appointment and if so how? What support is available to LGBT officers to tackle the many complex and potenially controversial issues they may be expected to address?
    How does an intersectional approach to class, race, faith, disability, age interact and complement the already intersectional approach implied in the spectrum covered by the LGBT officer role?

  3. Gill Hay July 2, 2019 at 18:42 #

    So on the 5th day after Dasgupta’s tweets after the West Ham AGM, where are we? Well, his first tweet’s now been liked by 2.8k people and has had just over 800 replies, so a noticeable slow down of reaction; and it’s no longer his pinned tweet. He’s retweeted support from a number of national, London and local officers and sections of the LP, tweeted out media interest including an article about it in the (national) Pink News, and tweeted/ retweeted about the issue seating it in a context of other local Labour Party issues around diversity, representation and participation. Some more interesting questions to consider might be:
    How do LGBT+ and other issues of representation figure in a Labour Party that’s now “For The Many” alongside some of the single-issue leftist concerns that might be considered more traditional Labour politics?
    Should the LGBT officer be selected only by out LGBT+ members – potentially a very small number of people in many constituencies like Newham where it’s been very difficult being out as LGBT+? How practical or desirable would that be given the role has potential responsibilites to LGBT+ people, their allies and their detractors within the party and the borough?
    How do Momentum, Labour’s activist forum nationally and locally, and other longer standing groups that organise within Labour such as Progress, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, the Fabian Society and Compass generally support all of the different strands of Labour’s now very broad church, and particularly support LGBT+ people and communities in this particularly challenging time?
    How does Newham Labour connect with and support the whole of the local LGBT+ community now that being out apparently hasn’t quite the stigma and physical danger that it’s had in the past that has repeatedly driven away many out-LGBT+ people?
    How do allies of LGBT+ people in Newham Labour practically and politically support the full range of social and political organising that LGBT+ people might want to do as a community and within different communities, particularly now that Newham’s commercial and voluntary LGBT+ and women’s venues and events are very few and far between?
    How do allies of LGBT+ people in Newham Labour and elsewhere understand and react to the current enormous threats to LGBT+ people’s hard won rights, and react in community appropriate ways to the tropes that use perceived (but statistically wildly incorrect) threats of sexual violence to women and children as a reason to limit LGBT+ related education and rights?
    How can allies show solidarity and support for LGBT+ local events, not just by visiting eg the vibrant and now annual Forest Gayte Pride event but also practically by ensuring the security and safety of LGBT+ people as they arrive and leave such events?
    And now that there’s a little bit of no doubt transient attention on the issues that LGBT+ people continue to face in the borough after at least 4 decades to my knowledge (alongside the related issues that eg women, BAME and people of different faiths continue to face during the same period TMK), how can this energy be used to positively give LGBT+ and other people facing hostility the support they really need to live, work and stay in the borough?

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