From Trump and Pence to Marine Le Pen, the so-called “alt Right”, UKIP and Brexit, there has been a seeming lurch to the right in European and western politics with reactionary policies called for including Burka bans, immigration repatriation, attempts to overturn abortion rights and bathroom laws, and a trans rush in America to get gender markers and names changed before January, and fears of what may come. (Discussion 6 December 2016, Norwich Library)
LGBT Rights reversal by Right Wing?
Is this an irrational fear? India, Russia and Uganda, have already shown that LGBT gains can be reversed. Every single member of Trump’s cabinet opposes LGBT rights (Pink News) Who are the people around the president-elect (BBC)
Trump’s “message of resentment, anger and fear turned out enough of those voters for him to move past Clinton in key Midwest states and win an electoral college victory. From that, Trump will almost surely take the lesson that he doesn’t need to reach out to anybody; he can win by appealing only to his rabid base.” – Washington Post
Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Tom Price, one of Congress’s staunchest opponents of abortion, as health and human services secretary has drawn immediate condemnation from reproductive rights and public health groups.
The city of San Francisco has passed a resolution vowing to resist any backslide on LGBT rights under the Trump administration.
Europe: Austria, Italy, France, Sweden…
On Sunday, Austria’s Norbert Hofer was nearly the first far-right head of state in western Europe since WWII. In the end, a re-run of the election in which a previous vote was tied with a narrow 30,000 challenged majority actually resulted in a 53/47% victory for the Green-Independent candidate.
“Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.” – Guardian
Interestingly, Austria saw the centre-Right and centre-Left candidates lose in the first round, instead seeing a polarisation of the vote around far-Right and independent-Green. Is the future of politics? A rejection of establishment, traditional parties including liberal-centrist in favour of a new politics, the so-called rise of populism. These new ‘extremist’ parties favour nationalism over immigration and may blur the lines of Left and Right, cutting across and drawing support from the whole political spectrum, as UKIP has done in the UK. They are anti-status quo and have recently seen the “sad death of liberal Britain“.
Slovakia has seen its far Right party gain its first seats in 2016, with 8% of the vote and 14 seats. Interestingly, Left and Right parties opposed immigration. Immigration and asylum has been championed by Liberal-Greens across Europe but increasingly opposed by the Left and Right during times of austerity.
Sweden’s Democrats have seen a significant rise in support 2006-14 and are characterised by anti-immigration and anti-indigenous, pro-heterosexual nuclear family ideals. Same-sex adoption is opposed with forcible married heterosexual adoption if children of LGBT parents are orphaned.
Reports have shown that a majority of far and new Right supporters are working and lower-middle class men, often less educated and economically insecure, with traditional heterosexual masculinities feeling threatened by the diversification of national culture by Islam, immigration and LGBT minorities.
A re-developing divide is also that of rural versus urban, with diverse cities integrating their differences whilst rural populations become entrenched around their traditional populations.
“Economic anxieties [only] go some way to explain the phenomenon, but as with the Brexit decision, people are voting in ways that seem – at least to their critics – likely to harm their own material interests just to give the establishment a bloody nose” – Intelligence Squared
Across 39 European countries and English-speaking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – right-wing parties are in power in 30 of the 43 countries, 4 more than before the 2008 financial crash when anti-capitalist feeling should have been on the rise. Is Europe swinging to the right?
And then there’s the Alt-Left – “a subset of liberals in America who think differently than the regressive left. We tend to be pro-free speech / anti-safe-space, anti-Islam, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, anti-SJW, and a plethora of other things.”
The Left’s advocacy of LGBT rights “has a long and mixed history“. Early 20th Century Communism, it should be remembered, was a part of its pre-millennial milieu. That said, Russian Communism undid the laws of the Tsarist regime, and early German Communism and Socialism advocated for gay rights whilst the Nazi National Socialist party oppressed them. Stalin, re-introduced criminal charges for gay men. Obscuring clear analysis is the fact that for some, homosexuality was considered a pervasive practice of the aristocratic classes and not that of the working man.
Some have pointed out that Left and Right do not naturally fall into good or bad, liberal or oppressive, camps. For instance, this graphic is narrow and simplistice in its presentation of the political spectrum:
Some on the Left have wistfully remembered the health and education policies and stand against the US and Apartheid of Fidel Castro. Yet, Castro, also, had issues with LGBT people, their country being decades behind others in giving LGBT rights, before then they could end up in hard labour camps, exiled or killed. Castro proclaimed homosexuality incompatible with revolution and looked only to “real men”.
A phrase that has resurfaced with the football abuse scandal and darts player MBE, Eric Bristow taunting victims as not “real men”, who would stand up to their abusers.
‘White Power Barbie’ v Hillary Clinton
America’s Democrat Left put all their hope in Hillary Clinton and women in general to save the US from a Trump victory, yet 52% of white women voted for him. One female Republican, Tomi Lahren, has been called the “White Power Barbie” and has millions of views, supporting the Right.
The Tyranny of the Majority v Minority
What are the fears of minorities, women, LGBT, etc with regard to the Right and is it fair to selectively remember history and ignore the far Left’s similarly anti-minority views? Or to assume that women are more open-minded or liberal-left than men?
How do we vote when party manifestos cut across multiple issues, rights and policies, is there a hierarchy of rights when no one party espouses them all? What can we do to protect, mitigate and stand up for minorities during more repressive times, if that is what is to come. Are LGBT, among other, rights culturally interpreted and either victors or victims depending upon whether their status is seen as a class, religious or political correctness issue, rather than one of human rights?
Contrary to expectations, and ‘no-platforming’/’safe space’ politics extremist groups able to participate in mainstream debate tended to move away from extremism over time, or to eventually lose support, e.g., the BNP in the UK.