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The Importance of Equality Within the Republican Movement

A crowd watches the Republic rally from the steps of the National Monument

For Pride – By Kieran Gorman – Our Republic Equalities Officer

Many LGTBQIA+ folks and their allies have once again started to both celebrate the diversity of human experience and intensify fight for the rights of queer people within our society now that we have entered Pride Month. As republicans, queer and otherwise alike, we also know the importance of fighting for our rights within society, particularly our right to live within a democratic republic rather than live under an unelected, hereditary head of state.

In recent years, as with many other progressive causes such as anti-racism and feminism, republicans and queer rights advocates have found out the importance, utility and potential, of solidarity and intersectionality. Many of us will fondly remember the sight we saw on Calton Hill on May 6th, when two young queer activists proudly draped in a trans flag stood alongside Trotskyists, Anarchists and others on top of the National Monument, overlooking a sea of socialists, nationalists and Scottish Greens below, all of us united under the banner of republicanism.

From Graham Campbell, SNP councillor and National Executive Committee member, who spoke on the importance the rights of trans people and gave thanks to his Anarchist comrades behind him for being in attendance, to former member of the immigrants’ rights group the Glasgow Girls, SNP Councillor Roza Salih, who spoke about the need for a Scottish socialist republic, echoing the words of a previous speaker, Maggie Chapman of the Scottish Greens, MSP for North East Scotland, all speakers seemed to recognise the importance of fighting in one another’s corners and uniting their efforts in the struggle to create the Scotland that they all – that we all – wish to see.

Why did such a seemingly unrelated variety of activists from so many different causes stand side by side? Simple. Because we recognised that at the heart of all our struggles is a desire for equality, a recognition of the injustice inherent to a system, any system, in which some have an excess of privilege and others do not even have their basic rights respected by the state. In the same way that homophobes, transphobes and other anti-queer bigots look down on queer people and compare them to paedophiles and predators, the Royal Family, House of Lords and other wealthy elites of British and Scottish society look down on their subjects as lesser than themselves either by God’s will or the “meritocracy” of cutthroat competition and inherited wealth.

Fundamentally, this seething hatred or paternalistic pity for those they perceive as lesser than themselves, stems from the same sense of superiority possessed by those at the top of any hierarchy looking down onto those at the bottom – i.e. looking down on people like you. This manifests in forms as varied as: the calls from the rich and privileged to cut social welfare and to dump the burden of taxes onto the poor in the form of VAT on basic living essentials, rather than levying heavier taxes onto those who control most of this country’s wealth and stopping them from using loopholes, such as hiding it in shell companies like that owned by King Charles Windsor and his mother Queen Elizabeth Windsor before him; to the labelling of trans people as ‘its’ and degenerates, and the false claims that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral and that same-sex couples are incapable of properly raising children.

They do this because they do not view queer people – and they do not view you – as real people. The rulers of our society barely even view you as human. They will say and do to you whatever they wish, because it is one set of rules and rights for them, and another – if any at all – for you.

One need only look to the example of the billionaire Joanne Rowling, who bares membership in both the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and the Order of the Companions of Honour, and who has gone on a years-long tirade against trans people with the assistance of her friend in the House of Lords, Tory Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, to see how classism and queerphobia intersect. 

Either type of injustice is a denial of the humanity of some section of society; either the working classes or queer folks. It is, in no uncertain terms, evil.

In the face of this realisation, republicans must see how essential it is to reject queerphobic bigotry in all of its forms. Our anti-monarchist spaces must condemn all discrimination against our queer siblings, or else we have no right to expect their support in our republican cause. As one wise attendant of the Calton Hill rally said: we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. Queer and otherwise alike, we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.

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