Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Our resolution for IN STRUGGLE!’s 4th Congress

by the Gay and Lesbian Caucus

First Published: In Struggle! No. 286, May 4, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Why present a resolution on homosexuality [1] to a congress of IN STRUGGLE!, especially smack in the midst of a political crisis? Because today, as we take stock of the progress we made and our mistakes, we have to recognize that IN STRUGGLE! did not struggle against one age-old oppression and thus reproduced it.

We ourselves are just beginning to discover the depth and breadth of the anti-homosexual taboo and its social significance. And we have become aware that there are some terrible silences. One concerns women’s sexuality in general and, more especially, lesbianism. Another is the silence concerning the extermination of more than 200,000 homosexuals in the Nazi concentration camps.[2] And did you know that the law justifying Hitler’s crime was only repealed in 1967?

And did you know that despite some recent amendments to make the anti-homosexual laws less repressive, there is still police harassment of homosexuals in our country? [3]. Did you know that there is sometimes more job discrimination against gays and lesbians than against women? [4] Have you ever thought about what your life might have been like if you had discovered at the age of 14 that your sexuality was considered abnormal and deviant by society? Have you ever stopped to look at how all-pervasive the traditional family model can be in education, advertising, recreation, legislation, work, medicine and social relations in general?

The socialist tradition

It is not surprising that the struggle against the oppression of homosexuality has emerged at the same time as women vigorously reaffirmed their own struggle. For both struggles raise the same issues, namely family structures, the biological and social reproduction of human beings who are locked into predetermined and allegedly natural social roles according to their sex. That there are sexual cultures, just as there are class cultures, both kinds branded with the mark of domination.

Nor is it surprising that the first homosexual activists related their struggle to the need for social change. And despite the taboos, the early socialist movement had no qualms about supporting the struggle for homosexual liberation, this was true notably in GERMANY and the early days of the Soviet Republic. The challenge to patriarchy was still weak, but bourgeois hypocrisy was nonetheless condemned, along with sexual repression in general.[5]

But all this did not last long. The narrow “economis” outlook of the communist movement soon led to a resumption of sexual repression and more specifically the condemnation of homosexuality as an expression of “bourgeois degeneration”,[6] During the very same years, fascism undertook to “defeat this plague by killing it off”.[7] Since then, there has been a long silence, a silence that is only beginning to be broken...

IN STRUGGLE!: From silence to repression to tolerance

This is the tradition IN STRUGGLE! came out of when it was founded in 1972 – a tradition of reactionary silence about the repression of homosexuality to start with, but also about all the pain find suffering hidden in what we call our personal lives and homes. There have always been homosexuals in IN STRUGGLE!, even if they usually hid the fact, bearing alone the weight of the social oppression that our organization’s silence helped perpetuate.

But the history of IN STRUGGLE! has also been a history of repeated attempts to “come out” individually or collectively. ”Coming out” means saying what one is, coming out of one’s self-oppression to argue for the necessity of collectively taking in hand the struggle against the patriarchal repression of homosexuality, The resolution we are presenting is the outcome of this struggle. Many of those who helped wage this struggle have unfortunately already left our ranks: we are indebted to them.

The box elsewhere on these pages lists some of the most noteworthy events in this history which is certainly far from finished. If we are given the opportunity, we would be happy to compile a dossier on this history – a rather black dossier, it must be said, At the present time however, we think it is necessary to draw some conclusions for the congress to consider.

From silence to repression to tolerance: in a nutshell, the three phases in our oppression in the history of IN STRUGGLE!.

Direct repression came for the first time when some comrades asked the Organization to take a stand publicly, when they met together with the idea of developing a Marxist understanding of this oppression. For in doing so, they were judged to be forming a faction, “separating off’, as an internal directive put it later (in March 1977). As if we were the ones who invented the ghetto!

This directive nonetheless called for “tolerance’, demanding that an end be put to the gossip and rumours against homosexuals that circulated even within the ranks of the organization. At the same time. the directive endorsed the idea of “special measures” for us to protect the Organization from our supposed instability and the danger we allegedly represented in terms of infiltration by the police...

But it was not until the debate appeared in the newspaper in February and November 1980 that the question was broached publicly. We were thus finally granted the democratic rights already recognized in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights...

Subsequently, the coverage in our press of the struggle of gays and lesbians observed some careful and narrow limits. We reported the repression and mobilization in reaction to it, but did not urge our readers to join in. When an article pursued the questioning somewhat further, it was refused – not enough space, so it seemed. It was only with the revolt of the women in the Organization and the creation of our own caucus that our struggle began to be seen in its strategic context, namely the challenge to the patriarchal family. It remains to be seen now whether the work we have done has succeeded in breaking through the embarrassed indifference that still seems to be the attitude of the majority today.

For militant support

We are not asking the Organization to hurriedly adopt an analysis that we ourselves have only recently begun to work out. Instead, what we are demanding is the real and militant support of the Organization and each of its members for a process that we have begun and that needs to be supported and extended. What does this mean concretely?

1 – The right to breathe freely

We no longer can or want to live in an organization whose silence allows the worst kinds of prejudices about sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, to flourish among its members. We can no longer tolerate the wall between ’:political” and “personal” issues that exists in socialist organizations. We can no longer agree with a challenge to the economic and political system that leaves intact – now and in the future – the traditional division of sexual roles. We can no longer accept that an organization that claims to challenge society totally can at the same time transmit sexist and heterosexist values that are objectively related to a system of ownership and oppression. We can no longer accept bourgeois moralism covering a hidden political line.

Concerning homosexuality, we say that it is a part of human sexuality, just as heterosexuality is. Homosexual desire, expressed with more or less intensity depending on the individual, is not the result of some sort of degeneration of society. This aspect of society is present in all societies, in all eras. It is neither a disease, nor the product of male chauvinism, nor an inferior sexuality resulting from a prolonged childhood. Those who think otherwise should prove it. for we have no need to justify our “normality”.[8]

Once this is recognized, we have to struggle against the discrimination and ostracism of homosexual people and practices. More positively, this means that we must struggle for the social recognition of homosexuality and combat the heterosexism that promotes discrimination, contempt and ignorance about homosexual people and practices.

This also means that the Organization must be committed to militant support for the struggle of gays and lesbians against the attacks by the Right that promotes repression, discrimination against and contempt for gays and lesbians. For besides being a legitimate struggle in itself, this struggle is of great importance for the mass movement as a whole. We should keep in mind that the ruling classes have always used racism, chauvinism and witchhunts against homosexual “perverts” to reinforce their campaign for war and domination.

2 – The right to organize

Like every group that suffers a specific form of oppression, the victims of heterosexist social pressure have the right to get together as a group to promote the struggle against their oppression, Thus we should support the struggles and mass organizations of gays and lesbians and encourage homosexual comrades to get involved in those struggles and with the organizations waging them. Further, the main victims of heterosexism should be enabled to get organized if we want a struggle against it to be carried out within our own ranks. Therefore, we demand the right to caucus in order to develop an analysis of our oppression, to encourage involvement in the mass movement and to ensure that the struggle within the Organization is taken in hand.

3 – The right to he heard

The best way to perpetuate a form of oppression is to keep it quiet. This was what made it possible for the left to ignore the fight of gays and lesbians against the State and patriarchal society. Under social pressure we ourselves had to remain invisible, suppress our feelings and pretend as if our oppression didn’t really exist. As if our struggle had nothing to do with real politics, as if we do not have the duty to be revolutionary in fighting that oppression as on all other fronts.

That is why today we are demanding the right to be seen and heard. Concretely, we demand access to the press and to the Organization’s publications with complete editorial control over the contents of the articles we submit. In demanding this we are not trying in any way to prevent others from writing on the same subject.

Perspectives for future

The above is what we feel is an essential minimum to ensure that a left organization can make progress in taking up the fight against the oppression of gays and lesbians. Of course, our analysis remains embryonic. We still have to figure out in depth why the anti-homosexual taboo exists and what its precise role is in maintaining the patriarchal and class systems. To do that, we are certainly going to have to work with all those organizations and individuals that warn to ascertain what the truth of the matter is working from a socialist and feminist perspective. We are hopeful that the organization which comes out of the 4th Congress will be compatible with this desire of ours to understand and fight our oppression.


[1] The resolution which will be submitted to the congress is composed of those sentences which appear in bold in this article.

[2] According to an estimate made by the Austrian protestant church.

[3] There hose been no fewer than 820 registered arrests in the past 6 years in Canada under the “brawdyhouse law” alone. See Le Berdache newspaper issue 29.

[4] A study done in 1978 took a look at the relatise chances of different law grads who applied for articling positions in Ontario. Curriculum vitae were sent to all lawyers’s firms and places where articling jobs could be obtained. The applications were identical in all respects but two: identifying the candidate as male or female and in the section headed “Personal background” some applications included the sentence “active in the local gay movement”. The number of interview offers received: 17% for men with no mention of gay activity, 15% for “straight” seeming women, 10% for gay men, 7% for lesbian women. And Toronto, where the gay movement is strongest, was the city that discriminated the most... (source: Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Review, May 1981)

[5] “The Soviet laws are based on the following principle: absolute non-interference by the State and society in sexual matters to that no person will be treated prejudicially personally or in terms of their interests... As far homsexuality, sodomy and all other forms of sexual pleasure that European law considers as an affront to public motility, Soviet laws deal with them in exactly the same way as they deal with what are called “normal” sexual relations.” quoted from Gergory Batkis, 1923, quoted in The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935), Lauritsen, Thorstad, New York. 1974, p. 64.

[6] Gorki, the famous Soviet writer even went so far as to write: “In the fascist countries, homosexuality, which ruins young people, flourishes without constraint in those countrire where the proletariat has boldly taken power, homosesualliy is considered a crime against society and is severely punished.”

[7] Speech by Adolf Hitler, November 1936, Quoted in MASQUES magazine, summer 1991. p. 142.

[8] You might say that we have tended to define homosexuality more by what it is not than by what it is. Perhaps in order to proceed further we will have to define what sexuality is in general and what its relatonship is in general what its relationship is to the social system in particular. We are still waiting for that clarification... And speaking of definitions, the readers will have noted that we have taken up the terms “gay” and “lesbian” which are the commonly used terms in the homosexual movement. This does not mean, quite the contrary, that there is no such thing as bisexuality, including within our own caucus. However, it is the homosexual component of bisexuality which is object of social reproval. And that oppression is what gave rise to movement which defines themselves as gay and lesbian.