Tag Archives: anthony lester

Anthony Lester on how Lib Dems and liberal politics have influenced progress of gay rights in UK

Yesterday in the House of Lords, Lib Dem peer Anthony Lester spoke about the Liberal Democrat involvement in changing the law, and, more importantly, public opinion on LGBT rights.

Here is his speech in full:

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Leo Abse’s Private Member’s Bill that became the Sexual Offences Act 1967. It came ten years after the Wolfenden report recommended reform. The Act abolished the crime of sexual love between two men over the age of 21 in private.  It had crucial support from the then Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins.  But the path of reform has been long and tortuous and has required intervention from the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union.

The 1967 Act did not apply to Northern Ireland, and it required a judgment by the Strasbourg Court in Jeffrey Dudgeon’s case to persuade Parliament to abolish the offence in Northern Ireland.

The 1994 Act repealed the clauses in the 1967 Act that made homosexual activity in the armed forces and on merchant navy vessels a criminal offence. But clauses were introduced in this House that provided that nothing in the 1994 Act would prevent homosexual activity from constituting grounds for dismissal. The clauses were approved in Committee by a division on 20th June 1994.

The Strasbourg Court ruled in 2000 in Smith and Grady’s case that the provisions in the 1994 Act violated the right to respect for private life under a policy that involved investigating whether personnel were homosexual or had engaged in homosexual activity. If so, they were discharged.

EU employment equality directives and the Equality Act 2010 dealt with the problem. But the offending provisions remain disfiguring the statute book. As the Minister, Andrew Jones MP, said the Bill “addresses a historical wrong and the inadequacy of legislation to keep pace with out culture”.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Anthony Lester: Government has failed to answer key political and legal questions

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

My Lords, after attempting unconstitutionally to rush to the Article 50 exit without legislative authority, the Government have produced this simple Bill, which is no better than a Motion to approve in legislative clothing, and a White Paper that fails to explain the Government’s strategy or to answer the key political and legal questions.

The Government interpret Article 50 as a trap that, once opened, cannot be closed. But its author, the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who I am glad to see in his place, has made it clear that when the Article 50 process is triggered, the UK may continue to remain a member of the EU.

The White Paper—perhaps I should call it the off-White Paper—contains statements worthy of Dr Pangloss, George Orwell and Humpty-Dumpty. It claims that the UK’s constitutional arrangements make us,

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Five ideas to fight for

Five ideasAnthony Lester, the Liberal Democrat peer, lawyer and “the most eminent human rights lawyer in Britain” has been interviewed by the Huffington Post.  He highlights how, as a Jew, he was exposed to prejudice and discrimination from a young age, starting with the loss of relatives in the Holocaust, and later in the army when he was barred from attending a dance in the officer’s mess to “prevent miscegenation”.

As a barrister he devoted a large amount of his life to combating discrimination, and he also worked with Roy Jenkins, then Labour Home Secretary, on developing laws against race and sex discrimination. Later he fought for the Human Rights Act.

Anthony’s new book Five Ideas To Fight For will be published this week. He focuses on the ‘big ideas’ of human rights, equality, free speech, privacy and rule of law. He is very worried about the future of the Human Rights Act, which the current government is planning to repeal and replace with a British Bill of Rights.

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Lib Dems amongst the top ten peers’ peers

House of LordsEd Lowther at the BBC has identified the ‘top ten peers’ peers of 2013‘, defined as backbenchers in the House of Lords who were name-checked most frequently by their colleagues in the chamber. As he says: “This approach may not measure popularity or power, but it gives an impression of impact. “

And are any of those lordly sociometric stars Lib Dem, by any chance? Of course they are.

At number 4 – drumroll, please – is ….

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Lord McNally writes… Liberal Democrats can be proud of the Defamation Bill

Yesterday I published a new government amendment to the Defamation Bill which will strengthen the “serious harm” test already in the bill to make it more difficult for corporations to sue for libel. This new amendment makes it clear that a body trading for profit will only satisfy the serious harm test if it is able to show that the statement complained of has caused or is likely to case the body serious financial loss. This is almost identical to the original clause Anthony Lester proposed in his private members bill. This will make it clear that bodies trading for …

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Lord Anthony Lester writes: Free speech is the lifeblood of democracy

When I began drafting my private member’s bill to reform the law of libel in early 2010, with the help of the Libel Reform Campaign, the Lib Dems were the only party committed to reform, having grasped the chilling effect on free speech caused by the vagueness and uncertainty of the law, and the extortionate legal costs which accompany it.

By the time of the election that year, successful campaigning meant that all three main parties included libel reform in their manifesto commitments.

A pledge to reform libel law to better protect freedom of expression was included in the coalition agreement, and …

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Next week in the Lords: 8-11 January

Whilst rumours of a list of new Peers swirls around the Palace of Westminster, the Lords returns to work on Tuesday, and a somewhat lop-sided week continues through to Friday in order to fit in the postponed debate on Leveson.
 
Never let it be said though that the Lords needs a gentle warm-up before asking the difficult questions. Tuesday sees oral questions on airport capacity in London, housebuilding in South East England and the effect of the ‘fiscal cliff’ solution on the UK economy, before the Growth and Infrastructure …

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