Monday, 29 June 2015

So, we all rejoiced on Friday night when the United States Supreme Court declared marriage to be a constitutional right, making gay marriage legal in all fifty states, just in time for San Francisco and London Prides. It's a gigantic step forward. But before we all lose our hats, we need to remember how much more work needs to be done to ensure full rights for everyone, gay, straight, or otherwise, regardless of colour or background.

In the USA, it is now legal for same-sex couples to marry, although already county and city authorities in the Stupid States are attempting to flout this.

And let's not forget, many gay couples who got married this weekend could face unemployment, since in most states the shocking lack of employee rights means that their employers can sack them for disagreeing with their sexuality.

And I must point out, in the UK, we only have four "states," and only in three of them is same-sex marriage legal. It remains illegal in Northern Ireland.

And in case you thought that America has a monopoly on Christian Far-Right Fundamentalism, in the Republic of Ireland, abortion is illegal under almost all circumstances, putting thousands of lives at risk and depriving women of their bodily autonomy. link

In the UK, obscene benefit sanctions designed solely to punish the poor for being poor continue to become worse, as the government announces plans to sanction part-time workers for not playing the unemployment game to their satisfaction, by removing their housing benefit, thereby potentially leaving them homeless. link

The horrific massacre in Charleston, SC, has not only led to open-carry gun nuts ranting about how it would never have happened if the congregationers were armed (!), but a wave of racist attacks on churches has begun, with three black churches burned across southern states in the last week. Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan has ramped up its recuitment drive, showing that racism is still very healthy in the USA. link

The rape epidemic in American universities continues, although it pales compared to the level of rape against female soldiers in both the US and UK armies. Violent crime against transgender people is at a high, in particular against trans folk of colour, who face a disproportionate amount of hatred. The rate of actual and attempted suicide among trans folk is almost twenty times higher than in the general population. (link) Although transgender people have become much more visible in the media in the last few months, the backlash against them has been horrifying.

In the US, UK and Ireland, being black, female, transgender, gay or poor is reason enough to suffer. We have a long, long way to go.

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