LESBIANS: HERSTORY, ACTIVISM, DEFIANCE

 ‘A woman who is sexually attracted to other women: a female homosexual’

Lesbians have been written out of history, silenced, denied and vilified. They have been forced to endure ‘corrective rape’ and have been murdered simply for loving other women. They continue to face a barbaric immigration system which maintains a hostile environment through a persistent culture of disbelief, harmful stereotyping, and refusing to recognise as persecution the dangers lesbian asylum seekers face in their country of origin.

Yet our Lesbian sisters have also been at the forefront of the struggle for the liberation of all women. Our gratitude to our Lesbian sisters is immense and FiLiA continues to amplify their voices.

SPEAKERS: SHEILA JEFFREYS / SYEDA SARWAT FATIMA / LEPA MLADJENOVIC


THE LESBIAN REVOLUTION: LESBIAN FEMINISM IN THE UK 1970-1990
SHEILA JEFFREYS

I will talk about my new book The Lesbian Revolution: lesbian feminism in the UK 1970-1990. Lesbian feminism in the UK has been hidden from history and this book is the first to document and analyse it. I will talk about the scope, culture, ideas and practices of lesbian feminism and suggest why it all came to an end. The book argues that the greatest challenge that lesbian feminist ideas offered to male dominance was the analysis of male violence and male sexuality, and of heterosexuality as a political institution. I will talk about the forces which led to the disappearance of lesbian feminist culture and ideas, concentrating on the development of a movement of sadomasochism which was very popular with the forces of male dominance, and opposed us at every turn. There were other factors involved in the demise of the movement too which came from outside, such as the Thatcher government which passed legislation to prohibit the 'promotion of homosexuality'. By the late 1980s the great dynamism and influence of lesbian feminism were in steep decline. Lesbian feminism is now rising again, and I hope that this book will provide fuel to that flame.


SHAME
SYEDA SARWAT FATIMA

I am Muslim Pakistani lesbian. My Muslim fellows disowned me because of my sexual orientation. They did beat me, raped me and again beat me. Story of hate, a long story but still I feel myself powerful because I have found the secret of life which is based on Don’t Give Up. 

LESBIANS RISING IN SOCIALIST YUGOSLAVIA
LEPA MLADJENOVIC

After the ILIS world conference in Geneva in 1986 we lesbians started to organise in Yugoslavia inside the few new feminist groups. We learned that in order that we survived as lesbian groups in a small country of East Europe lots of connection and solidarity we received from lesbian feminists in Europe and the world.  Books in mail boxes, hitch-hiking, sleeping over, talking together with cigarettes, coffee and chocolate in three in six in twenty-five of us. Thank You Sisters.

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