Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wings & Waffle about LGBT Issues.

Wings over Scotland's Rev. Stuart Campbell's (almost) comprehensive fisking of Duncan Hothersall's opening remarks at the Equality Network's debate on Scotland's future last Thursday, entitled Dishonesty and Delusion, is a joy to read.

Hothersall's blog is subtitled "Thoughts from an Edinburgh Labour Activist", though like his far more revealing Twitter account, it is utterly devoid of original thought and is more akin to the Sheep of Orwell's Animal Farm repetitively bleating Napoleon's latest pronouncements.

Not being well versed in LGBT Issues, Stuart Campbell skips over some of Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues, with the tag [waffle about LGBT issues]. Commenting on Campbell's blog, commenter Triangular Ears says at 10 September, 2013 at 1:15 pm:
[waffle about LGBT issues]” I predict Hothersall will focus only on this excerpt, spinning it furiously into “Rev. Stu says LGBT issues are a lot of “waffle”".
I suspect Campbell fought shy of addressing the LGBT issues because last month some comments by him regarding US Whistleblower Bradley (latterly Chelsea) Manning had led to hysterical accusations of transphobia on his part, largely fuelled by him being quoted out of context. To my mind, a lack of a detailed understanding of Gender Dysphoria does not make one transphobic, it merely puts one on a par with around 98% of the human race. Transsexual folk and their supporters do not advance their cause one iota with sanctimonious, hysterical attacks such as Weekly Wanker.  In fact, all Campbell was saying was that he is quite content for Manning to live and identify as any gender he or she wishes. However, Campbell would personally always regard him as a man. This led to even more hysterical talk by the author of the Weekly Wanker article of the murder of transsexuals, by now we were really flying off into the F'Tang, F'Tang Biscuit Barrel country of manufactured outrage, a theme we will rejoin later.  I dare say Campbell's attitude may change in the future, should he be fortunate enough to meet, chat to and befriend a transgender person, as I was. Wild accusations of transphobia, mysogyny and homophobia will not swing either Campbell or his less enlightened readers on these issues.

It therefore falls to a gay chap to fisk Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues, and waffle it certainly was.

At this point I should perhaps explain the alphabet soup of LGBT.  It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (or Transsexual). It can get a helluva lot more complex and a whole tin of alphabetti spaghetti can be added to the recipe by the professionally right-on.  Personally, I utterly reject the label; preferring to regard myself as a person who happens to be gay.  Most lesbians I know will quite happily answer "Yes" to the question "Are you gay?", therefore I prefer the non-gendered, collective term Gay Folk.  In fact, I find the LGBT term so utterly Newspeak and abhorrent, I far more readily accept being called a poof by my friends;  However, I much prefer a simple "Roddy".

Why are the transsexual folk lumped in with the gay folk?  It is largely an accident of timing in that both groups reached their Rosa Parks moment at roughly the same time and each decided we'd had enough of sitting at the back of the bus and decided to fight for our respective rights to be ourselves, not to have to hide and not to have to accept second class citizenship in our own country.  Coupled with that was the Freedom Come all Ye attitude prevalent in gay bars: No-one turned a hair if a transgender person, or indeed a transvestite (who tend to be straight men who cross-dress as women) came in.  Even though the law has always treated transgender folk completely differently from gay men (lesbians tended to be ignored by the criminal law, but lumped them in with gay men in discrimination law), there was also a convenience for the establishment in herding all the gender / sexuality 'weirdos' into one amorphous mass with a ridiculous LGBT abbreviation.

I myself did not really get my head around the difference between gender dysphoria and sexuality until I spoke at a social event to a friend and fellow stalwart of Rank Outsiders, the organisation which fought to overturn the bigoted ban on gay folk serving openly in the UK Armed Forces. I asked her "Do you not get pee'd off that we always end up in gay clubs?" knowing her to be single and that she used to be a man. She replied: "No, I used to be a straight man, indeed I was married and I remain attracted to women so am now a lesbian. It was my gender that was wrong so I changed it. My sexuality hasn't changed."  That said of course, not all transgender folk end up being gay once they have acquired their new gender.  The folk who were gay become straight on changing gender, and the ones who were bisexual tend to still be bisexual.

We then come on to the fictional 'LGBT Community'.  This was largely a Labour construct and a means for Labour to garner the votes of gay, bisexual and transgender folk by appearing to sympathise while largely doing bugger all to advance their cause. Indeed, Labour vetoed advances in gay equality 13 times while they were in power and, in the case of gay Servicepeople, actively fought against us in the courts right up until 2007.  All the while, Labour swamped equality organisations such as Stonewall and the like such that they became the Gay Wing of the Labour Party in all but name.  Often funded with obscene amounts of public money, these figleaf organisations attracted the Hothersalls of this world: Citizen Smith types who saw them as a means to get on in the Labour establishment for their own ends and easy pickings after the main fights had been fought.  Of course, the first thing to waste time on was to decide who 'we' were, therefore the wrangling over the LGBT name started. First it was G&L, but then what about the bisexuals and then of course the transexuals? Then the Millie-Tant feminists objected to the G coming before the L and the non-gendered gay (which everyone except Millie was happy to be) was discounted. Thankfully they stopped before the rest of the alphabetti spaghetti was added.

Once this LGBT Constituency (for it was never a community) was constructed, it was to be maintained as a permanent Labour-leaning source of votes, staffed by Labour 'activists' and fed largely on public cash, with a top-up from big businesses who wished to appear right-on to the Labour establishment.  Far from seeking equality and full integration into society, it merely sought to create a politico-legal ghetto out of the commercial ghetto which previously served gay people but which was declining as more gay folk 'came out' and socialised with friends both gay and straight in far better venues.  

We even have an example of our own Duncan Hothersall contributing to an article bemoaning the old ghetto while he was merrily helping construct the new one.  It was to be like a gay version of the multicultural society, the Labour euphemism for the Black and Asian ghettoes of England, where integration was dropped as an aim, despite integration having worked very well in Scotland and indeed very well with previous immigrant influxes in England.  Having finally exited the old criminal legal ghetto, gay folk were to leap merrily into a civil legal ghetto to maintain their separate, victimhood status and therefore look to Labour as their protectors and saviours.  Just as the largely Labour-created underclass and working poor would be kept down and a constant source of votes. Stonewall even all but connived in sabotaging my own attempt to blow the legal ghetto out of the water in the House of Lords, but that's another story.

So, now that we know what LGBT is and some of the history, we can get on to fisking Duncan Hothersall's waffle about LGBT issues that was not dealt with by Stuart Campbell.
"If we disagree on independence, so what? It’s not the most important thing in the world. Human rights - including LGBT rights - matter more."
Human rights are secured in a contract between the citizens and the state. Scotland's legal tradition of the sovereignty of the people is all but meaningless within the UK state.  Only an independent Scotland offers our rights enshrined in a written constitution that doesn't currently exist in the UK. The sovereignty of the UK Parliament means that were a UKIP or UKIP / Tory Coalition to be elected, there would be nothing to stop UKIP's pledge to repeal the UK Human Rights Act 1998 being enacted. Only a Yes vote can secure all our human rights, including those for gay, bisexual and transgender folk.
"There is an argument that a socially progressive Scotland could be an example to the rest of the UK come independence. In my opinion, devolution is a far better place from which to influence the rest of the UK on LGBT equality. The actions of foreign countries have a much weaker influence on us than the actions of parts of our own country."
"And within the UK the influence can go two ways, as witnessed by the distinct whiff of one-upmanship when England and Wales passed equal marriage before we did. The reality is that nothing like the same sort of influence happened when our closest neighbours the Scandic countries did it. Devolution is a far better platform for setting examples."
Well, let's see how that worked in practice with a Labour Government in the UK, from Peter Tatchell, Labour Vetoes Gay Equality 13 Times:
"SECTION 28 - At the same Stonewall meeting [House of Commons, Feb 1997], Straw pledged that Labour would promptly repeal Section 28. But for two and a half years after coming to power, the government refused to say when or how. It was only following the Scottish parliament's announcement of plans to repeal Section 28 that Tony Blair was bounced into following suit. But even then, the repeal Bill was introduced in the Lords, which means that the Lord's vote against abolition cannot be over-ruled by MPs - effectively ending all hope of repeal before the general election."
So even with the Scottish Parliament forcing the agenda, the ever-so-flexible unwritten UK constitution provided the means to appease the swivel-eyed loons of Middle England with a UK general election in the offing and that, not social justice or equality, took priority.

Indeed, the above was the part of Hothersall's waffle that Stuart Campbell did tackle and I agree wholeheartedly. I am gay and I didn't detect any "whiff of one-upmanship" either:
"No supporting evidence is offered for this opinion. It’s hard to see how independence would have hampered the Scottish Government’s ability to lead the rest of the UK on equal marriage, for example. (We’ll pause for a brief moment here to ponder how much it must sting Hothersall that 13 years of Labour government at Westminster and eight at Holyrood saw homosexuals still forbidden the same rights as heterosexuals, and that it took an SNP Scottish Government and a Tory/Lib Dem UK one to actually bring forward legislation. Labour in Scotland in particular would never have dared offend the religious lobby – especially the Catholic one in its west of Scotland heartlands – in such a way.)
"We’ll bow to Duncan’s greater knowledge of the LGBT community here. We didn’t detect any “whiff of one-upmanship” when the UK government actually got its legislation moving slightly ahead of Scotland’s, but maybe we don’t move in the right circles. But once again, we struggle to see how Scottish independence would have held progress back in either jurisdiction." 
By and large, that was it in terms of waffling about LGBT rights, bar one piece of nonsense that I'll leave to the end. The remainder was Hothersall's usual parroting of Better Together slogans and memes which are expertly dealt with by Stuart Campbell and I commend the reader again to his fisking of Hothersall.

Hothersall has a long record of throwing insults, particularly at Stuart Campbell. He also behaves as a typical troll, pretending to engage in debate but then breaking threads, not answering questions and asking others etc. He even selectively quoted from comments below the line of Stuart's article to solicit support. Presumably, because the fisking was so comprehensive that he couldn't fight back against Stuart's article itself.

Which brings us back to the manufactured outrage. One of the comments he selectively tweeted was my own:
Oh, Christ almighty. Can we not even escape the ubiquitous Carmen on WoS? Hothersall’s achievements for alphabet soup (or LGBT) equality are enumerated in a round figure, a very round figure: 0. Likewise, his original contributions to the referendum debate can be similarly counted. Why Carmen? I’ll leave you with one of my #indyrefpoetry contributions: 
Duncan’s barnet has a stamp
A rose, that’s just a wee tad camp.
OK, but who’s he harmin’?
Just about every fan of Carmen.
This led one of his acolytes to accuse me of being a homophobe twice over! I finally managed to elicit that apparently calling a rose in a known gay man's hair "a wee tad camp" is regarded as homophobic by these committee warriors. He never did say what else in the comment was homophobic. He shut up when I suggested he examine his own prejudices, that camp and gay were not synonymous and that I have a straight friend who is as camp as a row of pink fluffy wigwams with glitter balls. Camp has not equated to gay since John Inman last minced up on the telly and announced "I'm free!" Are these folk really stuck in the 1970s?

Thankfully, by 2:1 Hothersall & Co were defeated in the debate. If you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, think on Labour's record on equality and consider Are you Being Served by these ultra-sensitive, committee warriors who manufacture outrage and see homophobia and transphobia where none exists? If they don't see it they'll merrily quote folk out of context and try to manufacture outrage. Hey, it beats doing any of the real fighting. 

Think on how what has been achieved was really achieved. Bar a few legal battles, the great majority of the advances achieved have been made by ordinary lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folk getting out of the ghetto, getting on with life and showing that we're just ordinary folk with the same joys, cares, woes and worries as everyone else and therefore not worthy of the discrimination meted out. The political class need our votes more than we need them.

But hey, the self-serving has all worked out for Hothersall, he's now Chairman of the Edinburgh South Constituency Labour Party.  Should one kneel or merely kiss hands?

Hothersall's 'Wolfie Smith' attitude is perhaps best displayed by his view on independence getting rid of Trident. He views this as merely expelling it from Scottish waters. He says he does want rid of Trident, but only from the whole UK. The fact that Scots would neither have to pay for its upkeep nor the £120Bn for its replacement is irrelevant to this Britnat.  The fact that, given the Nimby nature of English local politics, Trident might well never find a home when it is evicted South of Carlisle is beyond his limited strategic sense to comprehend. Wolfie needs a barricade to man for the rest of his life, or at least to be on the committee deciding what the barricade is to be called. His call to arms for the "LGBT Community":
But I don’t think we should be sitting back and waiting for it, and moaning when it doesn’t come - I think we should be out fighting for it. All the gains we’ve made as an LGBT community have come from fighting, not sitting back.
I'll leave the response to that to the lyrics of Si Kahn and to Dick Gaughan:
And it's not the fights you dreamed of
But those you really fought


I'll be with the folkies but I look forward to meeting as many Yessers who happen to be gay, trans or bi as possible on 21st September in Edinburgh.


Edit 25 June 2014: I'm amazed at the longstanding popularity of this post. But if you liked this, you'll love today's post over on Wee Ginger DugWe’re here, we’re queer, we’re voting yes.