For Immediate Release
May 1, 2016
Lean Deleon & Cole Carothers, Co-Coordinators, BAYAN USA Northeast Queer Caucus, email@example.com
We are May Day Because the LGBTQIGNC Struggle is the Worker Struggle
BAYAN-USA Northeast Queer Caucus calls on all Filipino/ Filipino-American LGBTQIGNC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Gender Non-conforming) workers and migrants and our allies to join the millions of people all over the world that will be taking to the streets this May 1, also known as International Workers’ Day. The day commemorates the Haymarket protest where workers who were demonstrating for 8-hour work days and against recent police killings were bombed. Despite taking place in 1886, such atrocities continue today. Workers and migrants continue to be exploited for cheap labour in grueling hours. Poor Black and Brown people are still being gunned down by the police. Peaceful protestors are still being attacked. LGBTQIGNC people are discriminated, harassed, and murdered.
It is imperative that the LGBTQIGNC liberation not be separated from the labor movement. The continued aggression of imperialist countries with neoliberal economic policies and wars aim to disunify the people. Additionally, gay white cisgender politics fixated on gay marriage has taken the national focus away from real issues that affect the majority of the LGBTQIGNC population such as unemployment, homelessness, and the killings of trans women of color. Organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) do not have the interests of the majority of LGBTQIGNC. Instead we find liberation as part of the anti-imperialist movement of the workers—especially as the majority of LGBTQIGNC are workers themselves.
Assata Shakur, Black revolutionary said, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” LGBTQIGNC folks must recognize how much we have to gain when we move past our identity politics, and take up a framework of class politics.
The War on LGBTQIGNC Workers
LGBTQIGNC workers are a significant part of the international workforce yet face rampant workplace discrimination. In the Philippines, LGBTQIGNC Filipinos comprise 10% of the overall population. The majority of the LGBTQIGNC population are workers and peasants, facing amplified poverty conditions as they are often kicked out of their homes for their sexual orientation and discriminated against when seeking employment. In many places in the world, including the Philippines, LGBTQIGNC workers are not protected from discriminatory hiring practices and workplace harassment. They are also not protected from the non-existent job security of contractualized labor.
The war against LGBTQIGNC laborers continues to keep them in a cycle of poverty, forcing many to fall victim to the hands of exploiters and murderers. The anti-LGBTQIGNC culture promoted by big bourgeois companies that control the global media and wealth allows for these workers to be seen as less than valuable in society when in reality, this global wealth is created on the backs of workers like those from the LGBTQIGNC community.
Forced Migration of LGBTQIGNC Migrants
Thousands of migrants are forced to leave places like the Philippines everyday because of the inability to find employment. In the Philippines, like many places in the world, workers are unable to find employment because of imperialist plunder of resource-rich land and the bureaucratic policies that allow the plunder to concentrate wealth into the hands of a few. Economic and military agreements made between countries like the United States and the Philippines widen the wealth divide as the land and resources are opened up to foreign corporations instead of being developed by the country itself. LGBTQIGNC workers are not spared from the need to travel abroad to find jobs to support themselves and their families, and they are the victims of these agreements on the ground.
Because of United States economic interest in the Philippines, the ongoing military agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) allow for US troops to commit crimes against LGBTQIGNC Filipinos with little to no consequences. Jennifer Laude was a 26-year-old transgender Filipina who was brutally murdered by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Despite admitting to committing her murder using the “Trans Panic Defense,” he was given a charge less than murder and kept in US custody. His ability to get away with murder of trans Filipinos in the Philippines and to be treated with special privileges is because of military agreements like the VFA and EDCA.
Workers of the world should not have to flee their homelands to go to employers that exploit them, expose them to less than humane conditions and threaten their lives. Refugees and migrants should not have to face criminalization and the fear of deportation in the countries they migrate to because their homelands have been plundered by foreign corporations. In their homelands, workers should not have to face unequal economic policies that prioritize the rich and wage war against the poor.
The ongoing onslaught of imperialism on workers is much more felt by LGBTQIGNC workers, migrants, and refugees as unscientific thinking of patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia intensify the systems that oppress us. To reiterate Assata Shakur, “We have nothing to lose but our chains!”
End forced migration, imperialist plunder and war!
Queer liberation is workers liberation, workers liberations is queer liberation!
From Stonewall to the Philippines, uphold queer militancy!