LibLink: Tim Farron on LGBT rights


As ever the Liberal Democrats are ahead of other parties when it comes to LGBT equality.

That is a quote from an article by Tim Farron in the Huffington Post titled The Tories Are Trailing Behind on Transgender Rights. [Pedantic note:  I only allow full capitalisation of headings when they are from HuffPo, or some other American publication]

In this post Tim argues that we still have some way to go but that public attitudes have noticably shifted in a positive direction. He refers to this poll in which 68% of respondents “say a person who was born male but has transitioned to become female should be housed in a women’s prison”.

But the Conservatives are lagging behind public opinion. We managed to take them with us in Coalition:

In 2011, thanks to the work of Lynne Featherstone we published a Transgender Action Plan, we hope that this isn’t simply just put away in a box marked ‘Coalition work’, it will need to be revisited, updated and improved.

He refers to the Transgender and Intersex Charter which was passed at Conference last September “with astounding support from party members”.  Amongst other things it called for removing gender markers from documents unless absolutely necessary.

Something as small as not having to choose whether to tick the male or female box on applications can make a huge difference. In the last Parliament we desperately tried to get the Tories to agree to introducing gender neutral passports. This is not as radical an idea as it might seem – other countries like Australia have already introduced it and it is accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. It is frankly ridiculous that even on something this small the Tories have refused to act.

More importantly:

This summer, the state funded watchdog, Healthwatch warned that people preparing for gender reassignment surgery were being treated as second class citizens with disgraceful waiting times and delays. I’m glad that NHS England has responded – increasing funding and communicating what they’re doing better. I hope that this response can be mirrored across Government but this will need us to keep holding those in power to account and pushing for change.

We are an open and liberal society, we should be a world leader on this issue, for trans children, non-binary adults and their families, but that will require work both in Parliament and outside it. I believe the barriers are coming down and I and my party will be doing our bit to help them on their way but ultimately this is a group effort and will require more awareness raising initiatives like this to drive the change.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • If I’m reading Tim’s comments correctly he says that in the summer – after 5 years of a Tory/LibDem coalition government – people preparing for gender reassignment surgery were treated as second class citizens, with disgraceful waiting times and delays. When this was highlighted the NHS – now under a Tory government – increased it’s funding and started communicating what they were doing better. I’m not saying enough is being done, but it does appear the Tories are doing a better job on their own than they did in partnership with the LibDems.

  • malc, the Lib Dems have been banging this drum for the whole five years. Norman Lamb deserves a lot of the credit for his work on mental health waiting times; both that and gender care got officially added to the 18-week right to treatment in January this year because of his work.

  • Sarah Noble – If the LibDems got mental health and gender care added to the 18-week right to treatment that is indeed something to be proud of. I just sometimes wish they would get out of this habit of making someone – in this case the Tories – look bad to make themselves look good. If they do something good – as in the case you mention – just let the voters know without getting into petty mud slinging and the voters will return.

  • Poor stuff from Farron, who again claims that “trans women have been repeatedly put in all male prisons, which has had fatal consequences”. I take it the fabled Lib Dem “evidence-led” approach doesn’t extend as far as to things like waiting for inquests to occur before jumping to conclusions.

    “He refers to this poll in which 68% of respondents ‘say a person who was born male but has transitioned to become female should be housed in a women’s prison’.

    I’m actually shocked that figure is so low – I thought it might have been higher. But of course, this is not the issue anyway. Of course most people think, rightly, that trans prisoners should be housed in the appropriate prison for their gender; the Tories believe that too. The issue is what procedures should be in place to achieve that (the current ones are abysmal), including the difficult question of how you deal with less clear-cut cases.

  • I think Time has said/done enough to balance out any lingering negativity from the leadership campaign.

    Time for some flagship political policies that a) resonates with the wider electorate, and b) makes clear what is different about the Liberal Democrats.

    I’d add a review of what passes as austerity from this Tory Government and give Keynsian economics a dusting down again. As President Bill Clinton said, “It’s the Economy Stoopid !”

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