14 May 2008

HarpyMarx: New socialist feminist blog

Talking of gay and lesbian liberation I am copying a piece from Louise's new blog Harpy Marx.

I blog with Louise on Socialist Unity along with Andy Newman et al...here is her take on The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Brave women she is in the Labour Party and works with the Labour Representation Committee...must admit I have become a John Mcdonnell fan in recent weeks...any way please link to her blog...on to her essay

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed its first stage by 340 votes to 78 votes (Ruth Kelly didn’t turn up btw for the vote) yesterday. One of the changes to IVF treatment is replacing “the need for a father” with “supportive parenting”. This will remove the discriminative barrier against lesbians and single straight women becoming parents. This progressive change challenges the stereotypical heterosexual nuclear family and one should that should be welcomed.

Unfortunately, this change has been attacked by the church and the Tory party with David “call me Dave” Cameron leading the charge. The Tories would like to position themselves as the “caring, sharing” party yet no matter how much cosmetic surgery they have the ugly homophobic reactionary true face of Tory “family values” appears.

“The reference to the need for a father should be recast as ‘the need for supportive parenting and a father or a male role model’. This is not to discriminate against same-sex couples or single parents, but to ensure that the responsibility to a child is discharged.”

Even better from IDS (Iain Duncan Smith): “Without fathers, boys join gangs and teenage girls get pregnant”.

Cameron and co. blame the rise in poverty due to the breakdown in family values. So… low pay, poor housing, reduced welfare benefits….and the sheer brutality of capitalism is nowt to blame…

Again, the traditional family values malarky clearly illustrates the emphasis on the role of the father in the family. ! Boys join gangs with/without a father and young women will get pregnant with/without a father around. It also exposes how fundamentally opposed the Tories are for lesbians and straight single women controlling their own fertility and choosing how to organise their own lives. This, ironically, goes against the usual arguments by the Tories about the state poking its nose in.

Unfortunately, there are still chances to scupper the vote. Labour MPs have been whipped while Lib Dems and Tories have free votes all through the votes. Labour MPs will be given free votes at the committe stage next week which will include, “need for a father”.

This brings me onto the issue of “free votes” or “freedom of conscience”. I believe that “free votes” elevates essentially reactionary points of view above criticism and without basis. It is always “conscience” on issues such as abortion and lesbian and gay rights but not on, say, privatisation. I remember my MP, Andrew Fowlds, during the Alton Bill and his reaction when I asked him how he would vote on the Bill.

“I am voting with my conscience, missy”… was his exasperated and indignant reply ( I mean how dare a young 17 yr old like me dare to question my MP!). My reply was: “Oh no you’re not”!

Conscience votes are a cop out and a reactionary one at that. Clause 54 should be wholeheartedly supported. Labour MPs, such as Geraldine Smith, voted against, “as recognising and promoting the generally accepted notion of the ideal family unit - the one designed by nature, that of mother, father and child”. So according to Smith’s homophobic “family values” logic, everything else is pretend?

It will be an important and crucial time next week (19th and 20th May) as there will be other key votes such as on abortion time limits. It is vital we mobilise against the anti-abortionists and the homophobes in making our voices heard.

Maria Exall, in this month’s Labour Briefing rightly argues: “We cannot give the homophobes and transphobes the space to make gains”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Derek, really appreciated. I will link to you as well. And thanks for quoting my piece glad someone has picked up on this.


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