“Is sex dirty? Only when it's being done right”, Woody Allen
On Tuesday 22 December, the Greek Parliament ratified the Civil Union Agreement for Same-Sex Couples. The new legal framework for co-habiting couples is also a limited step (forward towards the abolition of discrimination for the LGBTQI community.
The legislation makes the termination of civil partnership more difficult and provides rights to “civil partners” over inheritance, social security rights (pensions), and taxation. The government has yet to move to legislate for political marriage between persons of the same sex or the right to adopt children; both have been postponed for the future. Another weakness is the lack of provision for transgender people such as the facilitation of the change of personal documents without medical pre-conditions.
The cohabitation agreement places the Greek state in line with the EU legislation and it was a well overdue; the postponement of this alignment by many Greek governments in the past have led to Greece being condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.
The progressive step was made despite the fact that some Greek bishops had their church bells ringing in “mourning” for two days. The Metropolitan of Kalavrita and Aegialia Ambrosios, in a concert ... of "humanity", said among other things that “homosexuality is a social crime and sin. Homosexuals are scums of society and that MPs supporting the [law] deserve spitting as they are not people but freaks of nature, suffering mentally and spiritually; as they are much more dangerous than some, who live in the madhouse’.
Not to be outdone the Metropolitan of Korinthia among his wishes to church goers for a happy New Year, (while Greece remains in economic crisis and refugees continue to be drawn into the Aegean Sea or frozen in the borders of Evros) talked about the “axis of evil” of the Tsipras government and the sodomism and corruption that the law will be bring; “cursing” the Prime Minister’s own young children to “turn out gay” and that the Prime Minister will be attending their Civil Union Partnership ceremonies.
Protestors demonstrated outside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens in response to these church reactions. Two young men dressed in priest robes kissed in front of the Cathedral.
These statements do not surprise us, as the Church's role is to maintain conservatism in society, to instil the notion that we are "servants of God" and therefore our bodies do not belong to us, our choices for our lives are judged by something bigger, they are not defined by us, but by some gentlemen in black clothes and beards.
The bill was supported by Syriza, three votes from its coalition partners ANEL, Pasok, Potami and the Centrists’ Union. Only 19 out of 75 New Democracy MPs voted in favour. Golden Dawn opposed. But very significantly, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) voted against the legislation.
The KKE have tried to justify their obstructionist socially regressive political stance with Marxism-out of-context quotations, but they reflect Greek social traditions up to this point: opposition to deviation from the norm, adherence to divine scripture — reactionary and regressive philosophies against enlightenment, which were reflected in Greek laws.
Indeed the ANEL government partners, align their position with the axiomatic perscriptions of the Holy Synod. The stance of ANEL including their president, Kamenos, who abstained, is a plausible explanation for Syriza's delay in bringing a watered-down version of the legislation to parliament.
The Secretary General of KKE, Koutsoubas, stressed that the decision for two men to live together is private, so "it should not concern the public sphere." He also said that KKE condemns homophobic attacks. The KKE’s stance should not suprise us. They follow Stalinist Russia's persecution of homosexuals. All the trash of class and patriarchal society that with Bolshevism flew out of the door, Stalinism reintroduced: the glorification of the nuclear family institution, under the rationale that family institutions were being attack by capitalism, within the context of global capitalist decay.
The KKE reproduces the classic-conservative argument that the child needs a gender binary role model of man and woman in the family environment; they try to support this “argument” by basing it upon the "biology" of the sexes. Children who grow up in single-parent families, are "doomed" not to grow "naturally"?
So this party of the “working class” can fight for workers’ rights only if it means the rights of heterosexual workers. LGBTi people are not some kind of “exotic fruit", isolated from society and the working class; on the contrary they are a vital and organic component of the working class movement.
The homophobic and reactionary positions of KKE have nothing to do with Marxism. The Left and all progressive forces of the civil rights movements should uncompromisingly demand: equal rights and equal treatment of same-sex and heterosexual couples, at all levels and all spheres of public life and legislation; ending every discrimination based on sexual orientation, color, religion, gender.
Ultimately the complete freedom of the individual, including LGBTI people, can not be achieved outside of the liberation of the whole of society from the shackles of economic, social and cultural oppression.
The left should treat LGBTI issues neither dogmatically nor without factoring in the class division. LGBT, as well as women and youth, are not a social class but a "social space" that includes different classes. Any anti-capitalist policy supports the individual rights of all LGBT regardless of their class. But in a class society, the question of hegemony in any collective movement can never be ignored. "bourgeois” LGBTI politics should be fought.
Gay Pride started as a rank-and-file movement, paired in multi-dimensional ways, but not without tensions, with the anti-war, anti-racist, and left American labour movement in the late 1960s. This movement was instrumental in winning gains. Gradually, however, after the triumph of neoconservatism / neoliberalism and in a common path with the decline of the left, communist and labour movements, especially after the 1990s, capitalist ideology has deepened its intervention and hegemony of the LGBT movement.
Modern capitalism, that reproduces and sharpens patriarchy, sexism and oppression of the LGBT people at the same time ‘addresses’ the needs that are born in this repression as a market by creating a separate "industry" within the wider sex industry and entertainment for profits and a distorted and incomplete satisfaction of these needs.
Post-modern theories of leftist representatives of structuralism and post-structuralism, despite some serious contributions, contribute objectively to the hegemony of ruling-class neoliberal hegemony as they regard the LGBT movement as a classless combination of some abstract individual or at best collective human rights.
With their anti-dialectical decoupling of the economic sphere from the realm of culture, they are contributing to the subordination of the movement to the market and businesses. At the same time, they contribute to the isolation of the LGBT movement from its class and social allies. Such theories are quite strong within the milieu of the reformist and Eurocommunist left, but also affect portions of the anti-capitalist left. These theories are equally "old" and, from another perspective, just as dogmatic as those of "the dogmatic Stalinist Left".
Every mass movement of the oppressed needs permanent allies to achieve long term goals. The LGBT movement has an immediate potential ally in movements for socialist feminist liberation. And more broadly, the youth movement and the labour movement. Sexual and general social oppression based on sex/gender and/or sexual orientation is rooted in patriarchy, sexism. Patriarchy is a system, not just an ideology. Phallocentrism and sexism are forms of the ideology of this system. And patriarchy is not abolished "from within", with reforms. It is not removed when individual women and LGBT people set up their own "nuclear" family or when get leadership and status jobs in this system. It will only be eradicated via the revolutionary transformation of the production relationships and social culture.
The family, the patriarchy, the oppression of women and gays appear in special form in the capitalist society. They appear in the emergence of capitalist private property, capitalist class and working class of the bourgeois state. However, under capitalism of our time, the economic role of the family is eroded. The “accidental liberation” of women and children from the nuclear family of male domination, not only frees the woman, but leaves room for every wish and every choice of sexual orientation.
The conquest of workers’ power and working class hegemony, the smashing of the bourgeois state and the nationalization of the basic means of production is not sufficient to overcome the family as an economic unit and patriarchy as the form of it. These relationships are deeper historically and socially than capitalism. It requires not only the abolition of classes in an integrated "working democracy", but the overcoming of all forms of state and social divisions with the complete socialization of all means of production. It requires the revolutionary transition to a global society of the freely assembled producers in a stateless and classless communist society. It requires the communist liberation from all exploitation and oppression.
Subjects and actors of this historical perspective are the movements of LGBTI people, of women, the youth and the working class, under the democratic leadership of a revolutionary working-class hegemony and perspective. The autonomy and at the same time the militant united front of these social movements, can elicit significant conquests and give impetus to a comprehensive political and social front of emancipation of the working class and all oppressed sections of the society.
The labour movement will be greatly enhanced if it is connected with the demands and aims of such a profound cultural shift. A Marxist reestablishment of Marx's theory and a liberation program of struggle for the issues of the family, the woman and the LGBT people is important collective work by the revolutionary left, the trade unions and the community movements, although the last word will be written by the mass movements in need of such a programme!