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Gay Liberation in Canada:
A Socialist Perspective

The Significance of the New Radicalization

The tenth pan-Canadian convention of the LSA/LSO took place in April 1973 in Toronto, after a ten-month pre-convention discussion. Written membership contributions filled 58 English-language discussion bulletins, totaling 1,665 pages. Another edition of the discussion bulletin was published in French.

Several contributions raised criticisms and proposals on the LSA/LSO’s position on gay liberation. However, the major political differences developed on other questions: Canadian nationalism, the national struggle in Quebec, the New Democratic Party, the women’s liberation movement. Three different tendencies developed on these questions, and presented their viewpoints to the convention. Two of these tendencies later split to form the Revolutionary Marxist Group, a sympathizing organization of the Fourth International, and the Socialist League.

The gay liberation movement was taken up in two of the general documents adopted by the 1973 convention.

The Political Resolution adopted by the convention (IDB, Vol. 9, No. 31) further developed the LSA/LSO’s position on gay liberation. The organizational report (IDB Vol.1, No. 4) briefly discussed the LSA/LSO’s participation in the gay movement.

The following are the relevant passages of these two documents.

The New Radicalization: New developments in the Class Struggle
(excerpts from the 1973 Political Resolution)

We are today in the first stages of a deep going process of radicalization, in which ever-wider layers of the population are beginning to question the assumptions, norms and shibboleths of this society, to search for alternative values and courses of action, and to move into action against their oppression and exploitation. (p. 21)

Growing out of the contradictions of capitalist society, other layers of the population are mobilizing in their own names, around their own demands, in struggles that challenge some of the most cherished institutions, myths, and beliefs of this society. One of the most significant is the women’s liberation movement — the second wave of feminism in this century. (p. 29)

Sexism is rooted in capitalism; the fight against it is an integral part of the anticapitalist struggle. Our ability to intervene in the feminist movement, to learn from it and give it leadership through the development and application of a program of transitional and democratic demands that can lead the movement forward, is an important test of our own movement. Already our movement’s intervention in the feminist movement has won it respect and support from militants. (p. 31)

An indication of the depth of the current radicalization is the mobilization of homosexuals against their oppression. Gay liberation strikes at some of the deepest taboos of capitalist society, challenging this society’s view of homosexuality as an illness or perversion. "Gay pride" announces that homosexuality is a significant and legitimate component of human sexuality.

Gay people constitute a large and significant oppressed minority in this society — many studies estimate that at least 10 percent of the population is homosexual. Gays are rebelling against laws and societal prejudices that are designed to compel them to hide their existence, their sexuality. The revolutionary socialists of the LSA/LSO completely and unconditionally support full civil liberties and human rights for gay people. (pp. 32-33)

Each radicalization differs from previous radicalizations. This one is unique for the depth and breadth of the struggles of layers which constitute the leading edge of the process — a process which has only begun, and has yet to draw in the main contingents of the industrial working class. This is one of the strongest features of this radicalization. For the deeper, the more extensive the mobilization of these layers, under their own leaderships, with their own demands, the deeper and more powerful will be the struggle of the class as a whole. Revolutionaries have every interest in propelling forward all these struggles, extending their mobilization, deepening their independent organization, and their critique of capitalist society. (p. 37)

Policy on Intervention in Gay Liberation
(from the Organizational Report)

While some initial contributions on gay liberation were presented in the Discussion Bulletin by comrades in Toronto and Vancouver, the course of the discussion did not lead to an adequate discussion of the important questions involved. The incoming Central Committee will have to consider organizing a discussion on this issue. The Political Committee recommends that in the interim, our work in the gay liberation area proceed in the same form, and be governed by the same norms, as in other areas. Where gay liberation is a viable work area, branches should assign comrades to this work, and if several comrades are assigned they should operate as a regular fraction with a fraction coordinator, and report regularly to the branch executive and the branch itself as do all other work areas.

This work will, in our opinion, facilitate deepening the experience of the party in the period before the discussion is renewed. (p. 20)

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