magazine

Annual Report 2012

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Queers Against the Cuts was first launched on the 19th January 2011 in Brixton. The aims of the group were agreed to as follows:

• To campaign and defend all jobs, services and benefit rights and oppose privatisation. • To highlight the disproportionate and adverse impact the huge reduction of public spending has on LGBTQ communities. • To mobilise the LGBTQ communities against the cuts. • To promote discussion of alternatives to the cuts and reconstruction of a more LGBT friendly public service • To work in partnership and build alliances with others the fighting the cuts.

While at the time it felt like an uphill struggle, looking back over the last two years of Queers Against The Cuts we have achieved a lot more than we often realise and especially when you consider most our active members are largely extremely stretched activists. Nevertheless I feel that we had laid down solid foundations for Queers Against the Cuts both organisationally and financially for the future.

Membership

We have managed to build up a mailing membership of 119. By looking through the names the gender mix can be estimated at 50% male; 42% female; and 8% unclear or queer.

We have also had an affiliation from the Unison London Community and Voluntary Sector branch.

QUAC Meetings

Meetings sizes have been smaller, however since we have regularised and introduced political discussion items at the beginning of the meetings the numbers attended have, on the whole, crept up.

We organised a public meeting on 1st November 2011 at Conway Hall the speakers included Maria Exall, Chair of TUC LGBT committee, Phyll Opoku Director UK Black Pride, and Deborah Gold GALOP

We also organised an ‘open’ meeting on 28th July 2012 which began with a presentation by Joseph Healy on benefit cuts: DLA and HIV+ people, and Housing Benefit cuts.

Marches

A core part of our activity has been helping to ensure a visible LGBT presence on major marches and protests including:

• A Defend the NHS TUC ‘candle-lit’ vigil outside Parliament – 7 September 2011 • TUC ‘March for Alternative’ – 26th March 2011 • Pension Strike March – 30th November 2011 • TUC ‘Future that Works’ March on 20th October 2012. • CoR Europe Against Austerity protest – 14th November 2012

Prides

Another core activity has been ensuring an anti cuts presence on Pride marches. We have taken the banner to the last two London Pride Marches and Brighton Pride marches where we have given out leaflets.

Last year we also attended the East London Pride with the banner taking a prominent place on the march. We also had a stall at Oxford House and a ‘platform’ speaker at one of the workshops.

At this year’s Brighton Pride we were guests of the new formed Brighton Queers Against Cuts (BQAC). The bloc was moved to the back of the march where we received harassment by the police. At one point members of BQAC were kettled for the ‘crime’ of letting people join the parade. If had not been for the intervention of Caroline Lucas MP and Peter Tatchell we would have been thrown off the march. Perhaps more worrying was that this was instigated by the Pride stewards with one them questioning whether we should be at Pride at all as we were “too overtly political”.

A more friendly pride has been Black Pride – which we attended two years running, where there was a higher level of political awareness among both the organisers and many of those attending.

Following the problems at World Pride in London QUAC members attended a meeting organised by the TUC. Colin Wilson was elected to represent QUAC at a future meeting which finalised the establishment of a set of principles which London Community Groups demanded that London Pride be based on.

Blog

We have set up and managed a blog on wordpress.com called queersagainstthecuts@wordpress.com. We have made 20 posts including reproducing press releases; reproducing articles published elsewhere; news items and information about events and activities. It has a small but regular readership and has played a vital role in raising our profile particularly at times of high interest such as after Brighton Pride.

Press Releases

We have produced over 5 press releases sent to the left press; LGBT press; and the Guardian. These press releases include:

• Panning the Prime ministerial speech given at the Downing Street reception for the LGBT community. • Yes to sex and relationships education, No to Nadine Dorries’s sexist proposals on abstinence education • Calling for Cameron to rethink Housing Benefit Cut • Queers Kettled at Brighton Pride. • Joining Us on 20th October 2012 – March and Remembrance

Out Against Austerity

We support the SERTUC LGBT Committee initiative to bring together LGBT community groups including 17-24-30 no to hate crime campaign; Brighton Queers Against Cuts; Left Front Art; NUS LGBT Campaign; Campaign for Homosexual Equality; The London Queer Social Centre, Queer Resistance; and Queer Strike; to work towards a maximising LGBT presence at the TUC ‘Future that Works’ March on 20th October 2012.

This finalised in a well attended public meeting on the 27 September 2012 at UNITE House in Holborn. (for which we moved our regular meeting).

Coalition of Resistance

It is QUAC policy to support all Anti-cuts alliances (including the Right to Work; National Shop Steward Network; People’s Charter; Unite the Resistance and Coalition of Resistance) while calling for uniting between all of them.

However the anti-cuts alliance with which we have worked with most closely with has been Coalition of Resistance (CoR). As Convenor I have attended National Council and Joseph Healy and Terry Conway are currently members of the Officers Committee (although not in a QUAC capacity).

We have had delegations to 3 conferences organised by CoR and we have had platform speakers in two workshops.

Other Activities

We have undertaken other activities including:

• Having speakers at Lambeth Peoples Assembly; the Campaign for Homosexual Equality • Leafleted November 21st LGBT History Month pre-launch; Soho 19th November 2011; Queer Question Time February 2012; Mayoral Queer Hustings April 2012; • Distributed over 2500 ‘postcard’ leaflets • Produced QUAC enamel badges that are selling like hot cakes

The Future

At the October 2012 meeting the future of campaigning was discussed. The feeling of the meeting was that QUAC was at a turning point. Whereas hitherto we were largely raising awareness within other campaigns or community events QUAC needed to move on to focus, although not exclusively, on a limited number of specific campaign. The campaigns or issues it was agree to focus on for 2013 were:

• The effects of Housing Benefits/Council Tax Benefit cuts on LGBT people; • The effects that benefit changes (particularly PIP) are likely to have on HIV+ people. • Supporting and prompting the NHS “No Private Providers” campaign organised by Keep the NHS Public

It was also agreed that in LGBT history month we should organise an event that draws parallels between the rise of Fascism in Europe in the 30’s and now.

In order for these campaigns and events to be successful we need to strengthen the organisation including the following:

• Broaden the workload which is currently left to a very small number of individuals. • Develop the blog including getting more regular posts and a wider group to write for it • Build better relationship with other campaign groups particularly Queer Resistance and LGBT trade union groups. • Get speakers at other groups • Increasing the number of affiliates • Increasing the number of regular donations • Improving internal communication (possibly through a ‘private’ blog)

Other things we may consider in doing include:

• Writing a pamphlet on QUAC position • Organising a funding event • Producing more fundraising/promotional material • Support the development of QUACs in other parts of the country. • Organising social activity

R Farnos Richard Farnos – Convenor

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