All the participants in the fourth LGBT seminar held at the IIRE in July 2009 were extremely positive about what they had had gained from sharing the three days of discussion and debate on key issues facing LGBT people working in an anti-capitalist framework.
Participants included 26 people from 14 countries
The 26 participants were from Lebanon, Palestine, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, Portugal, Denmark, Turkey, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Britain. Shortage of funding as well as visa difficulties prevented still wider non-European participation but never the less there was the basis for real internationalist reflection which many of the participants said was one of the unique things about the event that they really valued.
The seminar was broader than previous ones as a result of inviting individuals who are conscious anti-capitalists but not necessarily members of explicitly anti-capitalist organisations. Participants agreed that this should be repeated in organising the next event.
The presence of at least four transgender/transsexual/intersexed people - more that at previous events - was a positive feature. The discussions this led to were an important element in the seminar's success. The atmosphere was warm and the discussions comradely throughout the weekend.
We held sessions on LGBT self-organisation in the Middle East and the intersection between LGBT organisation and the project of 21st- century socialism in Latin America. Beyond this, the perspectives were therefore developed in other sessions, for example on queer theory and politics, and on homophobia and Islamophobia in Europe, were able to develop in a less Eurocentric context than would have otherwise been the case.
There was consensus on several important conclusions:
- A non-Eurocentric approach to sexual oppression and emancipation is important to opposing both the Islamophobic "clash of civilisations" as well as the fundamentalist-friendly reaction to it by some sections of the left.
- In the Latin American processes of radicalisation, notably in Venezuela, insistence on self-organisation by LGBT and other specially oppressed people is important to fighting for a 21st-century socialism from below that rejects authoritarian tendencies and the temptation to repeat 20th-century errors.
- Where we revolutionaries are working in broad radical left parties, it is important to insist on self-organisation within these parties by LGBT and other specially oppressed people, and that on this self-organisation's is being reflected in the parties'' programmes and practice, as a means of is important in resisting pressures towards electoralism and institutionalization.
Contribution of queer theory and activism to a Marxist-feminist approach
Participants also appreciated the discussion on queer theory and politics, since many radical LGBT activists in some parts of the world work in or with currents who draw on queer theory and queer activism. A presentation explained how queer theorists have deepened the feminist understanding of the social construction of gender - by showing that sex too is to a large extent socially constructed. Such an understanding is particularly important to trans and intersexed people. It also deepened the understanding of how profound heteronormativity is for the way patriarchal capitalism functions.
Criticisms were also made: for example, that some queer theorists denounce "identity" to such an extent that they risk undermining the political basis for self-organisation of oppressed groups and that some queer theorists and activists neglect the role of the material power structures of patriarchal capitalism. Nevertheless many participants found that queer theory and activism have a lot to contribute to a Marxist-feminist approach. There was general agreement that the discussion on queer theory and politics should continue.
Plan to hold Fifth LGBT seminar
The only negative comments about the event were that we had insufficient time to discuss individual topics as well as to share personal and political experiences.
Participants decided in principle to hold another international LGBTI seminar in the summer of 2011, hopefully lasting slightly longer.