Later today, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will have its crucial second reading. This legislation would give same sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
I’ve written before about why I find same sex marriage to be an inherently conservative demand, and I suspect this bill will ultimately go through precisely because of this. It doesn’t make any structural changes to the existing social order, rewards gay couples for behaving in a way which society deems palatable, and manages to appear progressive. It’s a win all round for the powerful.
Despite this, antediluvian bigotry still exists: up to 180 Tories may vote against the bill later today. There’s no good reason for doing this, given the benefits the Tories can reap from bringing in same-sex marriage. It’s just plain homophobia, dressed up in concern about the meaning of marriage and other such nonsense. This tripe from Philip “porn throne” Blond and Roger “cockend” Scruton exemplifies some of the best intellectual argument against same sex marriage from the right, and it’s just circular rubbish, because it’s not a rational position. It’s also telling that the party has decided to make the vote on this bill a free vote: this way they can have it both ways. They can appeal to the bigots while still appearing to be the heroes of gay rights. It’s a smart move, politically. The whole thing has been expertly stage-managed.
I will be watching the debate with interest, though. Despite the stage management, this bigotry is still very real, and I would like to get the measure of exactly who it is so set in archaic prejudice that they cannot even vote through this piss-weak bit of legislation. Every single one of the fuckers who votes against this is nothing more than a common-or-garden bigot, worthy only of contempt and a shower of glitter.
When the bill passes, though, it is not a sign that heterosexism is dead in the UK, and that we can dance until we expire in an ecstasy of celebration. Far from it. This symbolic piece of legislation is merely cheap wallpaper pasted onto rubble of a house that had fell down years ago. Heterosexism is alive and well in the UK, we’d just rather not think about its victims.
Take, for instance, this story from yesterday. The UK Border Agency demands proof of sexual orientation from asylum seekers fleeing persecution for being gay. Because of this, asylum seekers are feeling like they have to film themselves having sex to prove that they are gay. And if they’re unable to prove it, they are sent right back off to face violence and persecution. In fact, there’s actually no evidence to suggest that even the sex tapes are considered adequate proof of sexual orientation, and it’s entirely possible that these people, too, were sent away. This system, by the way, is seen as an improvement on how it was three years ago, where gay asylum seekers were sent off and told to “behave with discretion”.
The entire thing is inhumane, and absolutely steeped in heterosexism. The assumption that there’s an objective proof that you’re not “normal”. The probing, invasive ways of trying to find out what it is that makes these people different. The idea that there’s a way of being “properly” gay in the first place. The implications for those sent back, after having been submitted to a “gay test”. It’s humiliating, degrading, and I’m finding it hard to articulate exactly how disgusted I am by the fact that this is still ongoing. I find myself wondering if they’ve thought at all about this policy, and I don’t know if it’s better or worse if they have.
Yet because this heterosexism intersects with racism and the violence of the state, we’re not hearing a peep about it from the mainstream charities who ostensibly campaign for gay rights. It’s just a lot easier for privileged people to give a shit about other privileged people getting married than it is to think about intersecting oppressions.
Stories like this are far from uncommon, but they don’t happen to the nice, presentable face of the movement, so it’s easy to forget how utterly broken the whole stinking heteroheap of society is. Scratch the surface, and oppression is still rife. All the gay weddings in the world aren’t going to fix that.
So you’ll forgive me for not having the champagne on ice, ready for when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill gets a little closer to being passed later today. It just reminds me of how much further we have to go before we’re free.
I learned the word “heteroheap” here, and I recommend you watch this deliciously queer extravaganza as a perfect antidote to my general parade-pissing today.