Communism and homosexuality
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Views on LGBT rights and homosexuality in general throughout communist history have ranged from acceptance to apathy to condemnation. While homosexuality has sometimes been labeled by communists as "one of the effects of capitalist sociality" and the product of the bourgeoisie, many communists, especially in recent times, have argued that Gay Liberation is a key issue according to Marxism. With few exceptions, Communist attitudes towards homosexuality have in recent times evolved largely in correlation with modern westernization in general.
- 1 Early history
- 2 Homosexuals and communist membership
- 3 Association of communism with homosexuality by anti-communists
- 4 Current status
- 5 Status by country
- 6 Status in former communist states
- 7 Non-governing political party opinions
- 8 References
The Communist Manifesto does not address the issue of sexual orientation or gender identity. Later Communist leaders and intellectuals took many different positions on LGBT-rights issues.
The German Communist Party, during the Weimar Republic, joined with the Social Democrats in support of efforts to legalize private homosexual relations between consenting adults. Yet, the situation for LGBT rights in the first Communist government in Russia were something of a mixed bag.
The Communist Party abolished all Czarist laws and its subsequent criminal code in the 1920s, did not criminalize non-commercial same-sex sexuality between consenting adults in private. It also provided for no-fault divorce and legalized abortion. However, homosexuality remained a criminal offense in certain "uncivilized" Soviet Union states in the 1920s as part of an effort against "uncivilized" cultural practices.
In 1933, Joseph Stalin added Article 121 to the entire Soviet Union criminal code, which made male homosexuality a crime punishable by up to five years in prison with hard labor. The precise reason for Article 121 is in some dispute among historians. The few official government statements made about the law tended to confuse homosexuality with pedophilia and was tied up with a belief that homosexuality was only practiced among fascists or the aristocracy.
Homosexuals and communist membership
Association of communism with homosexuality by anti-communists
Senator Joseph McCarthy used accusations of homosexuality as a smear tactic in his anti-communist crusade, often combining the Second Red Scare with the Lavender Scare. On one occasion, he went so far as to announce to reporters, "If you want to be against McCarthy, boys, you've got to be either a Communist or a cocksucker." Some historians have argued that, in linking communism to homosexuality, McCarthy was playing off of prevalent anxieties about sexuality in order to gain support for his anti-communist campaign.
Senator Kenneth Wherry similarly attempted to invoke a connection between homosexuality and anti-nationalism. He said in an interview with Max Lerner that "You can't hardly separate homosexuals from subversives." Later in that same interview he drew the line between patriotic Americans and gay men: "But look Lerner, we're both Americans, aren't we? I say, let's get these fellows [closeted gay men in government positions] out of the government."
Connections between gay rights groups and radical leftists often actually existed. The Mattachine Society, one of the earliest gay rights groups in the United States, was founded by a former member of the Communist Party who was kicked out of the party for his sexuality and, later, kicked out of the gay rights group for his ties to the party.
None of the four self-identified communist states as of 2013 recognized same-sex marriages, civil unions, or registered partnerships. There are also no anti-discrimination laws in place, but homosexuality is legal in each country.
Status by country
China (People's Republic of)
Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997 and was removed as a mental illness in 2002. Chinese society itself is somewhat tolerant of homosexuality, and Li Yinhe, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, is an LGBT rights activist. Same-sex marriage bills have been routinely proposed before the government since 2003, though none have yet made it out of committee.
In July 2007, a civil union law was proposed to the government, but has yet to be voted on. The move was supported by Raúl Castro's daughter, Mariela Castro, who has been a longtime supporter of LGBT rights.
In 2009, Cuba signed the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity which sought to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.
It has been announced that a bill establishing civil unions that include all the rights of marriage in Cuba (including adoption) and banning discrimination based on one's sexual orientation, will be voted on in the national assembly in July 2011.
Since the Pathet Lao took over in 1975, the Lao government has been completely silent on LGBT rights and homosexuality itself. Homosexuality is not a crime in Laos, but female homosexuality is relatively frowned upon while male homosexuality is widely more tolerated. A growing acceptance of homosexuality in Laos continues.
Vietnam's state-run media in 2002 referred to homosexuality as a "social evil"; comparing it to prostitution and gambling, and supporting laws against it. As of 2009[update], such laws have not been introduced. There have been no recorded laws against same-sex contact in Vietnam for all of the country's several thousand years of existence and the matter is generally not discussed. Until 2000, laws against cohabitation were in place and the government used these to arrest same-sex couples. The communist youth newspaper, on the other hand, ran a story that stated people can be born homosexual, as they can be born left-handed. Attitudes among Vietnamese youth have also fallen on par to these statements.
On 5 August 2012, Vietnam hosted its first Gay-pride parade. Despite the protesters' not having a permit, the police made no attempt to stop the demonstration nor were there any reports of negative reaction. The event followed a surprise proposal by the country’s Justice Ministry in July to amend Vietnam’s marriage laws to include same-sex couples. Public officials say that the country is on the verge of recognising same-sex marriage, which would make Vietnam the first Asian country to do so.
Status in former communist states
Homosexuality was deemed illegal under the majority of former communist states, particularly in Europe, but in certain cases, such laws had pre-existed before the establishment of Soviet-influenced doctrine. Homosexuality carried harsh penalties in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, to which convicted homosexuals faced lengthy prison sentences and ill-treatment in prison. Homosexuality was also illegal in the People's Republic of Mongolia, but the extent to which these laws were enforced remain unknown. Homosexuality was officially decriminalized in the German Democratic Republic in 1967, a year ahead of the NATO-backed Federal Republic of Germany. The age of consent was later equalized in 1987, and in 1988 in West Germany.
In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where communist ideology has been replaced by Juche, LGBT rights are very limited and the subject of homosexuality remains fiercely taboo. While the government proclaims tolerance for gay people and has acknowledged its belief that homosexuality is not a choice and rather due to genetic factors, it rejects the alleged "promiscuity and classism" of gay culture in the West.
Non-governing political party opinions
The American Revolutionary Communist Party's policy that "struggle will be waged to eliminate [homosexuality] and reform homosexuals" was abandoned in 2001. The RCP now fully supports the gay liberation movement. Meanwhile, the large and influential American Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the US released a memo stating that gay oppression had less "social weight" than black and women's struggles, and prohibited members from being involved in gay political organizations. They also believed that too close an association with gay liberation would give the SWP an "exotic image" and alienate it from the masses. Several non-governing communist parties have made statements supporting LGBT rights, such as the Communist Party USA, which supports extending marriage to same-sex couples and passing laws against discrimination based on one's sexual orientation. The League for the Revolutionary Party, a communist party based in New York, issued a statement shortly after the passage of California's Proposition 8 condemning the amendment; reaffirming their support for same-sex marriage and expressing their views on how gay liberation is essential to the communist philosophy. The New People's Army, a communist insurgency within the Philippines has also made several statements supporting equal rights of same-sex couples and gay individuals; performing the first same-sex marriage in the country and officially endorsing such legislation if they were to come to power. They also went farther to express their support for same-sex relationships, and gay and lesbians were allowed to serve in their forces before the entire country. Other communist parties present in Germany and other European countries have also officially endorsed LGBT rights, including the right to same-sex marriage, and some even have extensive LGBT platforms in their parties. The general secretary of the Communist Party of Finland is openly homosexual and the party also participates in the LGBT working group of the European Left Party. In recent elections held in Jawaharlal Nehru University, the student's wing of CPIM nominated a gay person as its candidate for key position 
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- States and Countries That Allow Gay Marriage
- State sponsored homophobia
- Quiet pink revolution in dark before dawn?
- Chinese Society More Tolerant of Homosexuality
- See Recognition of same-sex unions in the People's Republic of China
- Cuba: Celebrations of advancing gay rights
- Civil unions could come to Cuba
- Raul Castro's daughter presides at government-backed event
- UN: 66 States Condemn Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Vietnam Media Call Homosexuality "Social Evil," Vow Crackdown
- Vietnam revised marriage family law
- Advice for gay and lesbian travellers
- Vietnamese high school pupils accepting of homosexuality
- Vietnam hosts first-ever LGBT parade
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- What is North Korea's stance on homosexuality?
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- Philippines ends ban on gays in military
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