Tag Archives: equality

The Fight for LGBT+ Rights: An Unfinished Rainbow?


This past weekend, Kiev, Ukraine hosted the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event referred to by some as ‘Gay Christmas’, with the theme ‘Celebrate Diversity’. In celebration of this theme, the Friendship of Nations Arch was to be redecorated to form a rainbow as a symbol of equality. Unfortunately, due to protests from far-right groups, the arch was never fully covered in a rainbow, and yet somehow has become, I feel the most poignant and apt depiction of the state of Equality in our society.

On one side, the one facing the city of Kiev, the rainbow is about half complete, the bare steel a reminder of the distance left to travel. On the other side, less visible, there is much less rainbow and much more steel, a great reminder that under the surface there is much further to go, with many people here in the UK still suffering from Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia at home, at work and in the street.



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Come to the future women MPs weekend!

The Campaign for Gender Balance (CGB) and the Diversity & Talent Support Team are pleased to announce that this year’s Future Women MPs Weekend will be held on Saturday 4 – Sunday 5 March 2017 at the Jurys Inn Hotel in Milton Keynes.

Future Women MPs weekend is an intensive residential training weekend for any aspiring female MPs within the party; whether you are already an approved candidate or are yet to take that initial first step, this is the perfect way to kick start your journey to Westminster. Jo Swinson, Tessa Munt and Jenny Willott all started their successful quests for a seat in Parliament at a FWMPs Weekend, and so could you!

As well as expert advice on your political career you will also receive:

  • Information and advice on all aspects of the process from selection to standing for Parliament
  • Personalised advice and guidance from top party trainers and representatives
  • A chance to ask any burning questions and address any concerns you may have
  • A fantastic opportunity to network and make useful contacts with other aspiring women within the party
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Baroness Celia Thomas writes…Disability rights and Labour wrongs

Who would have thought that a valuable addition to the Licensing Act which would have made life better for disabled people had been scuppered by Labour Peers?  And yet that is what happened on Wednesday evening.

The amendment, which sought to improve the accessibility of licensed entertainment premises (pubs, clubs, restaurants etc.) for disabled people, was tabled by the Chair of the Lords Equality and Disability Committee, Baroness Deech, a crossbencher, and signed by me, as Liberal Democrat Disability Spokesperson, a Labour Peer and another crossbencher.

The Committee, which was set up last year at my suggestion, to look at how the Equality Act was working for disabled people, took evidence from, amongst many others, local authorities and from the National Association of Licence and Enforcement Officers. They were keen to help make premises more accessible but said they needed a small addition to the licensing objectives in the Licensing Act to be able to take action. Without the amendment, a licensing authority can only ‘suggest’ the provision of a ramp, for example, or that a restaurant should not store toilet rolls in the disabled toilet thus making it unusable.  With the amendment, the licensee would be told that if no reasonable adjustments were made, the licence would be in danger of being lost.  

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Maria Munir chosen as Girls’ Champion for BBC’s 100 Women

Lib Dem member Maria Munir, from Watford, won widespread global respect and admiration when they came out as non binary to President Obama at a town hall meeting in April this year. Let’s remind ourselves of that moment:

They spoke to the BBC here about their experience:

I just felt this moment of euphoria that finally I would be able to raise and highlight the issue that non-binary transgender people face.

If anyone has the power to change things for people like myself across the world, it is President Obama.”

Maria said their family history made the situation even more poignant.

“I started to feel the tears well up. My parents are immigrants. My granddad did manual labour in Pakistan. My dad worked as a manual labourer in Saudi Arabia before coming here to start a business with literally nothing.
“For me, aged 20, to be sat in front of the President of the United States, leader of the free world, to be able to pitch to him social action…

Maria has now been named as one of eight Girls’ Champion as part of the BBC’s 100 Women series. They will be able to use their voice to highlight issues that affect girls and non binary and transgender people.

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The role of education in creating a fairer and more equal society

My daughter recently turned four and we had to start thinking about schools for her. Not that you actually have to remind yourself of that as I sensed an almost obsessive attitude with schools and what school you would chose for your child around me.

I always felt myself getting very upset in a lot of the school conversations and I had to think for a moment why that was. To me, it is that this talk about needing to get into “the good school” always seems less related to any real knowledge of what the school actually teaches or how they relate to children, but that “the good school” will prevent a child from ending up in a lower social class. This deep-seated fear of downward social movement is something that worries me greatly when it comes to promoting a fairer and more equal society, and yet the competition around schooling and the Ofsted regime seem to do a great job keeping the anxieties going. While I understand very well that we all want our children to find a good job and be financially comfortable, I simply cannot stand for the idea that this is the only determinant in making a good life and promoting a strong society.

There is so much talk about needing to value nurses and social workers and teachers and the like more, that these professions are overworked and under paid. The government resents the fact that it is losing good lower level medical staff to countries like Australia.

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WATCH Jo Swinson launch action plan on maternity discrimination

Yesterday, Jo Swinson, as chair of Maternity Action, helped to launch an action plan aimed at tackling maternity discrimination.

If you think that this stuff doesn’t go on any more, take an hour out to watch the video of the event and you will see that it very much does.  A woman called Amelia tells the shocking story of what happened to her when she told her employers she was pregnant.

The video is available on Maternity Action’s You Tube channel here. Unfortunately, it’s not embeddable here, but do go and watch it.

Here are some tweets from the event:

The number of women adversely affected each year is staggering:

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Jo Swinson to speak at event launching Action Plan on tackling maternity discrimination

This Saturday, an alliance of groups including Maternity Action, chaired by former Lib Dem Minister Jo Swinson, launches an action plan aimed at tackling maternity discrimination. The event takes place at the excellent Resources for London venue in Central London, where the Social Liberal Forum Conference was held last July.

No matter where you live in the country, you can take part on Twitter by following #maternityrights and by watching the live stream here.

If you are able to go, you can still register here.

Here are some more details about the event:

Please come and join us as we launch our Action Plan to tackle pregnancy and maternity-related discrimination. Working together with a number of other organisations, under the group name the Alliance for Maternity Rights, we have developed a list of all the things that Government needs to do in order to tackle this shocking form of discrimination.

This issue affects women, children and their families, so bring your partners and your children and babies. We will have space to park buggies, a craft table for kids and refreshments for both children and adults.

The event will include a panel session with speakers from Maternity Action and NCT as well as hearing from a woman about her experiences of discrimination.  We will hear from:

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