Sep 292012
Why aren’t LGBTQ women demonstrating.

I’m very surprised, sometimes, at how little the LGBT and pro-choice movements overlap. There’s some of the usual suspects at every demo, to be sure. But where’s the massive outpouring of solidarity between LGBT women and the pro-choice cause? After many years of being active on both fields, it still baffles me.

The common wisdom seems to be that, since lesbians don’t get pregnant, the pro-choice movement has nothing to do with them. Common wisdom tends to work on a set of assumptions which are, for the most part, easily disproven. I mean, I guess if you’re a cis lesbian that only ever sleeps with cis lesbians, reproductive rights don’t apply to you.

Change your world

Unless you’ve ever used a condom. Or a dental dam, lube, or sex toys. Because, you know, all that? You’ve got the feminist movement’s ongoing battles for reproductive rights to thank for those. Moreover, I imagine many of these hypothetical cis-on-cis lesbians have sisters, mothers, or friends who are straight/queer/trans/bisexual who can, indeed, get pregnant.

In Ireland we often admire many of the social gains in other nations. Same-sex marriage in Sweden, gender recognition in the UK, the great work on anti-racism within the US. Do you know what all of those countries have in common? Legal abortion. The right for women to choose how they shall deal with their own bodies.

Make up your mind

The right to choose extends from anything from condoms, contraceptive implants, the coil and the morning after pill. It was the condom trains of the 80s, where brave activists brought condoms from Northern Ireland and dared the Gardai to arrest them, that we have to thank for the over-the-counter sale of condoms in this country, of which many queer women benefit.

The only reasons left to be against abortion are religious, for there is no scientific evidence which points out when ‘life’ begins. Ask a biologist and they will tell you life began on earth millions of years ago, and has continued on since. The situation is rather analog to, pardon the pun, a chicken-and-egg question.

Ignore it and it’s not there

Supposed pro-’life’ campaigners, who advocate carrying pregnancies to term in every situation, want to restrict access to abortion, hoping that the average of 12 Irish women who leave the island for an abortion every day will simply stop doing so.

The more that abortion is restricted, the more desperate women will seek unsafe, backstreet abortions, putting themselves at great risk of permanent injury or death. These pro-life campaigners, by the way, care little for the rights of the child after they have been born, demonising single parents (especially if they are queer, which for them means ‘pervert who is going to molest the poor child’); or for life in general, as it is very rare to see them holding banners against war or military violence. The greatest preachers of their movement are, literally, preachers.

Not very Christian

I am not saying that all Christians are like this, nor do I feel that Christianity is incompatible with being pro-choice or being LGBTQ. But the particular brand of christianity brandished by Ireland’s pro-life movement is extremely homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic.

Due to the utter domination that the Catholic Church, with its known abuses and excesses, holds on the Irish education system, and the privileged place it has in communities, backed up by the constitution, many are still wary of committing to the pro-choice cause.

Be heard

To them I say, look at what many priests have done in Ireland, supposedly in the name of a loving God, look at what these politicians have done for women. Or rather, look at what the politicians haven’t done. Are we just going to let them continue to run Irish society in this manner? Are we going to let them keep making so many LGBTQ people have to leave for the UK of farther afield, just to procure a procedure which is guaranteed as a fundamental medical right in so many other nations?

This Saturday, a number of people will descend on the Spire, in Dublin’s busy O’Connell street, to protest the lack of legislation for abortion in the Republic of Ireland. At 2pm, they’ll gather and chant, and they’ll march for a woman’s right to have a full say on what goes on in her body. It’s time to stop sending Irish straight, lesbian, bisexual and queer women, as well as genderqueers and trans men, to another country. Everyone in Ireland has the right to full control over their bodies. Will you join us?