by Gender Working Group – ZACF
We, Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF), were recently shocked to hear about another homophobic murder in Johannesburg and extend our sympathy and solidarity to the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex) community of South Africa, that has had to suffer from oppression and discrimination so often within a short period of time. The murder of drag queen Daisy Dube is yet another horrible chauvinistic murder and adds to the escalating number of people killed in homophobic violence in South Africa in recent times, including 10 lesbians killed since just 2006.
We deeply regret this and all the other murders and hope that the case of Dube’s murder be solved soon, although we do not have much faith that the police will do so. Dube and others who speak out in such a chauvinistic environment – that not only verbally discriminates against people who are seen to be ‘different’ or ‘abnormal’ but also physically, including raping and killing them – should be seen as heroic. LGBTI people who know they are targets but still stand up for their gender identity and fight for their rights need our full support. It is such people, who stand up against oppression and discrimination, who will change the world.
The increase in homophobic, sexist as well as xenophobic violence indicates a growing culture of chauvinism throughout South African society. This needs to be confronted with united direct action. We think it is vital therefore to build a network of activists against both state repression and all forms of chauvinist violence coming from reactionary elements within South African society. This growth also indicates that it has to do with wider circumstances, such as poverty and the lack of service delivery which leads to frustration which then gets directed at society’s weakest. As we have seen just recently, it is poor people who turn against other poor people because they are so desperate. They discriminate against more vulnerable people, such as lesbians and immigrants, turning against each other instead of uniting against a common oppressor.
As anarchist communists we are against all forms of discrimination and therefore fight all of them. We fight for a world free from sexism, homophobia, ableism, racism and other forms of oppression. We support movements of people resisting oppression based on identity but we believe that it is important for them also to work with – and be supported by – the broader social movements and to engage in a broader struggle because we believe that many forms of discrimination are rooted in capitalism and the state system. This means we believe that as long as capitalism and classes exist, LGBTI people from poor communities in particular will be discriminated against. Most LGBTI people are poor and working class. As a class we get discriminated against by the state which only supports the interests of the ruling class and its right hand, the police. This discrimination, at the hands of the state and capitalism, is something that unites us as a class, across gender and sexual divides, across colours, ethnicities, abilities and age. Our struggle has to be united, it has to be anti-capitalist, it has to be internationalist and it has to be anti-authoritarian.
The fight for lesbian and gay liberation as well as fights against racism and sexism must be rooted in the class struggle – only the working class, as the exploited class, has everything to gain and nothing to lose in fighting oppression. And revolutionaries, regardless of their sexuality must fight for lesbian and gay equality.
Even though South Africa has a ‘progressive’ constitution with more rights for LGBTI people than most other states in the world we still know that the police are perpetrators of violence and discrimination and that there is a lot of chauvinism in South Africa. South Africans get born into and socialised in a nationalist, sexist and homophobic environment. We cannot rely on the constitution or the police to help us, we have to organise ourselves and change people’s ideas and behaviour through education and direct action.
It is not enough to believe in the constitution and we, as oppressed people, should not stop struggling when we gain legal rights and protection. We should not try to be acceptable to the mainstream and stop our struggles there but fight for a completely new and better world and a social revolution.
Together we have to criticise traditional gender roles, the nuclear family, marriage and compulsory monogamy and male polygamy which are based on patriarchy, capitalism and conservative religious values. Anarchists have a long tradition in criticising these institutions and a history of supporting LGBTI people, the more radical elements of which are anarchist inspired.
We hope that the future will bring stronger contact and collaboration between the various social movements and the LGBTI community in a united front to combat chauvinism. Sexual, economic and social liberation must go hand in hand.
In solidarity and support,
The ZACF Gender Working Group