Following a call out by Queer Resistance, the newly formed group of queers from across the UK working to oppose the cuts, it was tremendous to see a turnout of around 3-400 queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people from around the UK for a Pink & Black Bloc at the March for the Alternative, called by the TUC, on Saturday 26th March.
As a result, there was a visible queer presence proud to be part of the fight against the cuts, with an array of banners, placards and pink umbrellas as well as vocal chanting, marching in solidarity alongside at least 500,000 other people, including local anti cuts groups, pensioners, students, public sector workers, unions and people from all walks of life.
The group met up in the morning at Soho Square with LGBTQ people from all over, including London, Brighton, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Cambridge.. Queer Youth Network joined as the group created a wonderful march through Soho, linking up with other LGBTQ groups at Cambridge Circus including Queers Against the Cuts, TUC LGBT and NUS LGBT. It then proceeded down Charing Cross on the way to the start of the March, with the colourful demonstration receiving waves from passers-by. Feedback through the day was tremendous, such as two pensioners commenting: “I like walking with those Queer Resistance people. It’s nice to walk with them” and some young people saying that the group was inspirational. With its own sound system and megaphone, the crowds were kept amused with witty repartee about the cuts as the very long March weaved through London.
Next steps for the resistance
There are a number of upcoming activities for Queer Resistance, which people from across the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer communities as well as their friends and allies are invited to join and become a part of. They aim to give each other moral support and provide safety in numbers. Do wear pink and black, bring any queer banners, placards or signs that you have, or just turn up and join with them.
On Saturday 2nd April, Queer Resistance will be gathering for a picnic at 12 midday in Soho Square, London, to discuss activity to date and plan for future actions.
At 3pm on the same day representatives of Queer Resistance will be joining other anti cuts groups for the United Anti Cuts Assembly, an open mass meeting at UCL to reflect on the March for the Alternative and organise the next stage of the movement. More details available at http://anticuts.com/2011/03/29/united-anti-cuts-assembly-saturday-2nd-april/ / http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210282135649223.
Impact of cuts deepens
Following the financial crisis and the bank bailouts paid with public money, the ruling elite is using the current economic situation as justification to push through brutal cuts to public spending in education, housing, benefits and healthcare. These cuts will have a serious effect on a diverse range of important communities in the UK, not least LGBTQ people. Now is the time to resist these needless ideological cuts, push for the alternatives and fight for your community, your society and your values.
The rise of tuition fees will impact students who are not supported financially by their family and this means the effect will inevitably be felt by many LGBTQ students, as many have increased risk of being estranged from their families.
Other plans include severe cutbacks in NHS spending, meaning local authorities will have to abandon services they regard as ‘non-essential’. This will undoubtedly put sexual health and HIV services at risk at a local level – latest news indicates a 43% cut in funding for HIV services in London. Plans to devolve spending decisions to doctor-led consortia will also create a postcode lottery for health services, effectively leaving those who want to surgically transition unable to do so.
Cuts to education and community resources may mean a further lack of awareness about LGBTQ people in our society and potential rises in homophobic and transphobic attitudes. At the same time, an increase in unemployment and cuts in benefits is likely to lead to the scapegoating of already marginalised groups, including LGBTQ people, with resultant increases in homophobic and transphobic attacks. This is particularly worrying, given that the work of many charities working with victims of hate crimes and domestic abuse, like Galop and Broken Rainbow, are already suffering from the effects of underfunding.
The slashing of the benefits system and legal aid will compound problems for those who need help the most, including the disabled and those unable to work within the LGBTQ communities.
We also aims to challenge the common portrayal of the LGBTQ community as part of a wealthy and influential professional elite, when in reality many are often economically and socially disadvantaged members of UK society.