LGBT+: neither doormats nor tokens, we need to act!

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Each year, June is Pride Month, a time of celebration, struggle and remembrance for LGBT+ people. It is made necessary to oppose the stigma, discrimination and violence we face, to fight for our freedom and our living conditions.

Although it seems that the rights of LGBT+ people are progressing over the years, it is important to remember that these improvements are still, for the time being, merely hiding a wealth of existing discrimination. They are not evenly distributed, politically, economically and socially: laws and personal circumstances can vary enormously, and the upper classes have greater access to healthcare and safe environments. Violence against us is real, and it can kill. Every year members of our diverse communities die, either assassinated outright, driven to suicide, or left to die in poverty.

These oppressions do not only exist at the level of interpersonal interactions: they are systemic. And work, which dominates our lives, is a major factor in these oppressions. Companies, and the employers who run them, are directly responsible. Through malice, neglect or lack of interest, corporate executives turn a blind eye to the harassment we face, block our gender transitions and the use of our gender identity, allow the wage gap to widen and our precarity to grow…

By creating obstacles and fighting against employee representatives and trade unions, company administrations are directly responsible for the deterioration of our working and living conditions. They contribute to ruining our lives, exploit us for our labour power, and use us for their marketing.

Actual LGBT+ struggles, our struggles, are not about pandering to LGBT-phobic people to get them to ‹ tolerate › us. They seek to enable us to live normal, dignified and materially secure lives. They are intrinsically linked to the struggles of other marginalised groups and trade unions. This year, like all others, we will fight and organise collectively to support our comrades and hasten the fall of patriarchy and capitalism.

In the video game industry

Many of us are still speaking out against the discrimination we face in video game companies. Whether in big companies like Activision-Blizzard, Ubisoft, Quantic Dream, where high-profile cases have made serious problems visible, or in smaller companies that sometimes manage to escape media attention but are no less discriminating. And let’s not forget about schools which, long before we enter the workplace, are already hurting us.

All year long, but especially during the month of June, companies boast about their so-called inclusiveness: rainbow merch like at Ubisoft, big internal conferences to introduce half-measures to their employees, external communication about their LGBT+ employees, non-binding and therefore useless « diversity and inclusion » charters…

We are used as a banner, convenient to wave when useful for their recruitment or instrumentalized for their marketing campaigns, while suffering the hidden face of this « inclusiveness ». In reality, LGBT+ people are discriminated against at all levels: hired less easily, over-represented in the most precarious contracts, generally paid less than their colleagues, disproportionately fired.

As well as suffering LGBT-phobia on a daily basis in the workplace, we are also reduced to watching our stories exploited in the games we work on without being consulted or given the opportunity to speak out about them. At best, our opinions are ignored by a hierarchy that thinks it knows us better than we do. LGBT+ characters and relationships written by cisgender and heterosexual men, which don’t represent us but pander to their fantasies and fetishise us, become selling points for games and companies, but serve as reminders of the oppressions we LGBT+ workers face.

Our demands

To improve the working and living conditions of LGBT+ people, and those of all workers, we demand, among other things:

  • an end to the use of fixed-term contracts, to fight against the precariousness affecting LGBT+ people;
  • the mandatory introduction of publicly available salary grids in companies, to end wage discrimination that disproportionately affects minorities;
  • full coverage of all medical care by company health insurance schemes, including transitioning procedures for transgender people;
  • the use of preferred names and surnames at work upon request, without asking questions or requiring justifications;
  • the introduction of equal and compulsory parental leave, including in case of adoption, for all couples;
  • the inclusion of staff representatives and trade unions in the processes for reporting and managing discrimination and violence in the workplace, so that the voices of those affected can be heard;
  • the inclusion of all workers in decision-making and creative processes, and their total transparency, so that each person concerned can be consulted and act on the company’s choices.

We know from experience that such changes will not be implemented willingly by our bosses simply by asking for it: we must organise together, as we do at the STJV, in order to build the necessary power to force them through.