Tag Archives: LGBT rights

LibLink: Christine Jardine: The EU champions LGBT rights. Will Brexit Britain?

Christine Jardine has used her column in the Scotsman to highlight the difference that the EU has made in LGBT rights. Lest we get complacent and think that the work is done, she reminds us how Roe v Wade, the landmark decision on abortion in the US that everyone thought was settled could well unravel.

And we aren’t as far on as we thought we were, either:

As a society we have travelled a long way, but this is not the time to relax and assume the work is done. I have LGBT constituents who are still not comfortable holding their partners hand in public, or displaying any kind of affection, in case they draw attention to themselves.

She highlights how the EU and its human rights charter have been such a driver of rights:

It has been used by the Court of Justice to outlaw homophobia, and to make it clear that the sort of incidents we have seen particularly in eastern Europe are unacceptable. Yes, the UK has gone beyond what has been required by EU law, but without the measures adopted by the EU, the encouragement that offered and the legislative background it provided, would we be where we are now? While the Tory government seeks to argue that the protections enshrined in the Charter already exist in British law or will be incorporated through other EU directives, there is really no coherent argument for scrapping it. The Charter is the only international human rights document that contains a provision specifically outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She went on to talk about Theresa May dancing her way round Africa but not bringing up the subject of human rights in countries where same sex relationships are punishable by lengthy prison terms or worse.

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Welcome to my day: 10 September 2018 – in the absence of a plan…

Time to start another week, as the Party’s Autumn Conference beckons. Of course, much of the talk will be about the proposed “Momentum for Moderates”. In truth, the Party needs to build a broader coalition of support in order to gain power, and I can’t say that I’m terribly fussed about the terminology, as long as we remain a liberal force in British politics. And no, that doesn’t mean centrist, unless you can anchor centrism somewhere on the political spectrum. But I don’t doubt that there will be numerous contributions over the coming days.

The knives are out for Boris Johnson, …

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Migration of people persecuted for their love

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Liberal Democrats abhor the persecution of people on the grounds of their race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, live together in peace, and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely.

Some nations don’t offer those basic human rights and in such places you may be particularly vulnerable to family-based hate-related domestic abuse or honour-based violence.

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International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

On this day in 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of ‘mental disorders’. Since 2004 the anniversary of this has been used to promote awareness of the legal and cultural discrimination LGBT+ people still experience around the world.

In the UK that we have come a long way towards achieving equality – and yet we know that, for many, there is still a stigma around their sexuality or gender identity. Imagine being a teenager struggling to reconcile same-sex attraction with the teachings of their parents, or religion. Think about why you may not know many people who are openly bisexual, or those who have multiple partners in consensual polyamorous relationships. Consider the workings of the “spousal veto” which insists a trans person’s husband or wife must consent in order for them to gain gender recognition.

IDAHOBIT is about celebrating the diversity of human sexual and gender expression and challenging the barriers to people living their lives as openly as their cis, straight peers.

In the UK, this year’s day takes place against a backdrop of the current media storm over self-ID for trans people. This is the proposal to reform the Gender Recognition Act such as to reduce the hoops that trans people have to go through to replace their birth certificates. Despite what you may have read, it’s not a licence for any man who wants to perv at naked women to walk into the female changing rooms at the local swimming pool. There are, after all, already rules against that sort of thing. It is merely the UK catching up with such notoriously socially liberal states as Ireland.

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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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Lindsay Northover writes…The Lib Dem record on LGBTI rights around the World

Today Paul Scriven has tabled a debate in the Lords on the treatment of LGBTI citizens around the World. The Lib Dems have a proud record on human rights, and support for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) has always been extremely strong both in the UK and across the wider World.

It was after all my Lib Dem colleague in the House of Lords, Anthony Lester who initiated civil partnerships with his private member’s bill, and then persuaded the then Labour government to take his policy forward, leading to the Civil Partnership Act (2004). And of course it was my then Commons ministerial colleague, Lynne Featherstone, whom I am delighted will shortly join us in the Lords, who took this a major step forward, with the Equal Marriage Act. She stood back to allow the Conservatives to lead in the interests of the bill: so many Tories were opposed that Lib Dems leading would have been a red rag to a bull. But it was Lib Dem policy and it was her initiative to implement it.

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Two grateful men, one scarf, an angry Baroness and an LGBT organisation that can’t read what’s in the Lib Dem manifesto

Stonewall dropped a huge clanger yesterday by issuing a graphic on its Facebook page that gave Labour a tick for all the policies it had featured and gave only two to the Liberal Democrats. Thing is, anyone who had read the Liberal Democrat manifesto would know that all these things were in fact there.

Pink News has a wonderfully sarcastic quote from LGBT+ Chair Dave Page:

It is surprising that an organisation with Stonewall’s resources, if it seeks to appear nonpartisan, did not seem to have taken the time to quickly search through the Liberal Democrats’ main party manifesto (rather than the separate documents published by some other parties).

If they had, they would have found the commitment to tackle hate crime in section 9.3: ‘Change sentencing guidelines to increase sentences available for hate crimes.’

They would have also found the following on overseas aid in section 11.6: ‘Liberal Democrats believe British foreign policy and international aid should seek to advance human rights and democracy throughout the world. We believe all people – regardless of ethnicity, disability, age, belief, gender or sexual orientation – deserve a freer, fairer and more prosperous world.’

Under Ruth Hunt’s excellent leadership, Stonewall have done a lot of work to build bridges and listen to a wider array of voices.

We hope that the days of Lib Dem MPs having to lobby Stonewall to support equality rather than the opposite are behind us all. Unfortunately their rush to issue this ill-researched graphic undermines their reputation for being even-handed advocates of equality.

Lib Dem Peer Liz Barker also took Stonewall to task on Twitter. In a series of tweets parodying Stonewall’s “Some people are gay/trans, get over it” phrase, she outlined the Liberal Democrat record on LGBT rights:

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Baroness Lindsay Northover on developing evidence-based policy to strengthen LGBT rights across the world

Tonight, Lindsay Northover, our International Development Minister is giving a speech at a Sexuality, Poverty and Law Symposium in Brighton, outlining DFID’s new approach to LGBT rights in developing countries.  Lindsay and Lynne Featherstone before her have been integral in putting DFID on the front foot in prioritising LGBT rights and protections everywhere DFID works.

The symposium is part of an ongoing DFID-funded research programme led by the Institute for Development Studies in Brighton, which will produce evidence-based, practical options for activists and policymakers for strengthening legal protection of LGBT people and sexuality rights. The research will also build understanding of the links between sexuality, gender plurality and poverty with the aim of improving economic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality.

Here is her speech in full:

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Conference Speeches: Lynne Featherstone: I have been able to do über-Liberal things in Government

Lynne FEatherstone 2007 Brighton conference by Liberal DemocratsConference may have been a week or so ago but we still have some keynote speeches to post. Lynne Featherstone spoke about the work she had done to help the most vulnerable people across the world with great humility. She said she had been able to introduce über-liberal policies but was also keen to pay  tribute to Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg for getting the economy on track.

She spoke powerfully about what she’s dong to protect women and girls around the globe and talked with great humility, saying that whenever she meets people in desperate circumstances she’s very aware that that could have been her. “I didn’t choose where I was born” she said. Here is the video and the text is below:

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Clegg: Commonwealth must live up to its values and oppose LGBT discrimination

Clegg signs in at Pride HouseWe know that Nick Clegg has spoken out against discriminatory LGBT laws across the Commonwealth. He’s done so again in an interview with Gay Times magazine.  He called them after his visit to Pride House i(where the picture was taken) n Glasgow.

Shortly before he took his place in the stalls for the opening ceremony, the Deputy PM gave GT Towers a ring. “This is the Downing Street switchboard. We have the Deputy Prime Minister on the line for you,” came the call. Well, that was

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LibLink: Giles Goodall: UKIP’s disgraceful record on gay rights

Gay Pride New York 2008 / 20080629.10D.49816 / SMLSouth east Euro Candidate Giles Goodall has compared and contrasted the voting records of the Liberal Democrats and UKIP on LGBT rights in an article for Pink News.

It will come as no surprise to anybody that the Liberal Democrats have supported LGBT at every single stage:

In contrast, Liberal Democrat MEPs have systematically supported LGBT rights, with the European liberal group coming out with the best record in the European Parliament, alongside socialists and greens.

Let’s look at some of the things UKIP …

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LibLink: Sarah Ludford MEP: Despite their claim to be a libertarian party, UKIP have a shocking record on LGBT rights

Over at the Huffington Post, Sarah Ludford MEP has been looking at UKIP’s record on LGBT rights.

She first shows that they really don’t get it:

On the Ukip website, it states “As a libertarian party, we are entirely at ease with their (LGBTI community) choice and wish all of them well.” I question the appropriateness of this folksy language and the implication that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, particularly considering that LGBTI citizens continue to be the target of around 100 hate crimes per week. But even if it was well intentioned, why then do we consistently hear voices from

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LibLink: Giles Goodall – The EU has made strides towards LGBT equality but discrimination and isolation remain common

Over on Pink News, Giles Goodall, Lib Dem European Parliamentary candidate for South East England, argues that the EU has played a key role in strengthening LGBT rights, and can continue to have a positive impact on the challenges that remain.

Here’s an excerpt:

On LGBT rights, voters face an important choice in May Equality is a European value, and over the years the EU has become a strong advocate for LGBT rights. We have the EU to thank for Europe-wide laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and providing special protection for victims of homophobic and transphobic crime. EU pressure has changed the lives of millions of LGBT people for the better in its newer member states in central and eastern Europe, where homosexuality was still a criminal offence as recently as the 1990s.

Of course that doesn’t mean that all is rosy for LGBT communities in Europe. An EU survey last year found that fear, isolation and discrimination are still all too common. Two out of three LGBT people reported hiding their sexuality when they were at school (68% in the UK), while 60% were bullied or called names. 26% of people said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the past five years. In the UK, the figure was even higher, at 31%.

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Opinion: Parental equality: a step, and only a step in the right direction

I heard the announcement by Nick Clegg regarding shared parental leave and I am pleased that the party is moving the arrangements into the 21st century and away from the 1950’s. I do though still have an internal sigh when I hear the debate only being framed as a “mummy and daddy” debate, when it is reported in the media.

Hearing this language personally annoys me, as it reinforces the view that a family is only correct if it is for one mother and one father. This is patent nonsense in the 21st century and causes subconscious bias towards parenting …

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Nick Clegg: “I’m extremely proud to be part of a government that looks to the future of LGBT rights.”

nick clegg pointingIn an interview for Pink News, to mark yesterday’s 10th Anniversary of the repeal of Section 28, Nick Clegg said:

Section 28 was a divisive piece of legislation that should remain consigned to the constitutional graveyard forever. We have made tremendous strides as a country in securing greater LGBT rights since then – not least in securing the landmark legislation to secure equal marriage that I have supported for years.

There is of course further to go, particularly to help put a stop to homophobic bullying in schools. I’m extremely proud to be part of a government that looks to the future of LGBT rights.

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Has Stonewall snubbed the Liberal Democrats in their awards?

Every time I think kindly about Stonewall, they do something to annoy me. Way back in 2010, their opposition to equal marriage reached the fringes of our Liverpool Conference. That came just a few months after Ed Fordham wrote on here that he was no longer able to support Stonewall over its treatment of David Laws.

Happily, Stonewall did eventually come around to supporting equal marriage and attended the vigils outside Parliament which Ed organised when the Bill was being debated. They are also just about to start a brilliant campaign on homophobic bullying to run in anti-bullying …

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LibLink | Nick Clegg: Celebrate Pride but don’t forget the countries that discriminate against LGBT people

lds_prideNick Clegg has an article over at PinkNews.co.uk, in which he highlights how the forthcoming same-sex marriage legislation means this weekend’s Pride in London celebrations will be a “landmark” event. However, he contrasts the strides of progress made here with continuing repression against LGBT people around the world. Here’s an excerpt:

Civil partnerships were a huge stride forward, but only the right to marry – if you choose – is real equality. This isn’t just a ‘gay issue’. It’s about the kind of society we want to be.

This year we are flying

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Eric Avebury writes… Light on the horizon for some gay asylum seekers

In 1995 our immigration law was amended so that asylum applicants from countries that were designated as ‘safe’ no longer had a right to appeal against refusal unless their case was ‘certified’ by the Secretary of State. With a Border Agency prone to error, a risk arose that people with good cases might be unjustly be detained, speeded through a truncated process and deported.

Even the Home Office recognised that in some designated countries, there was endemic persecution of women. In 2005 an Order was made adding some countries to the list of those deemed safe, but for men only. …

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LibLink…Giles Goodall: LGBT rights in Europe – La vie en Rose?

South East region Euro candidate Giles Goodall has written an article for Pink News for the International Day against homophobia and transphobia looking at LGBT rights across Europe.

He makes the point that 7 EU countries already have equal marriage with 3 more likely plus Britain to do so. However, he makes the point that without the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, it would be unlikely to happen here. He then points out that the reality of life for LGBT people is not always as rosy as the law would imply:

A major new survey by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency,

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Lord Avebury writes… Gay asylum-seekers: we’ve come a long way, but much still left to achieve for LGBTI people around the world

It is estimated that worldwide more than 175 million people, some three times the population of the UK, are at risk of persecution because of their sexual orientation. Seventy-six countries criminalise consensual same sex relations, among them 54 countries of the Commonwealth.

Hatred against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is deeply entrenched in the culture of these countries, and their elected governments reflect the prejudice of the masses. They know that persecuting LGBTI people is contrary to international law, and leads to friction with donor nations.

In the case of Gambia, when EU representatives were due to …

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Lynne Featherstone calls for Julie Burchill to be sacked for post attacking transgender people

As Equalities Minister, Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone put into place the Government’s Transgender Action Plan. She will be acutely aware of the issues facing transgender people, particularly in relation to violence and discrimination. Hate crime towards that community has been rising as the Independent reported.

Yesterday, the Observer published a piece by controversial writer Julie Burchill which was peppered with hate filled language. Had the target of Burchill’s invective been a particular ethnic group, and she had used similar language, then her piece would have found its way onto the editor’s spike and she would most likely have been …

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The SNP, equal marriage and a large dose of red herring

Equality campaigners across Scotland were quietly confident on Tuesday. It had been widely expected that the SNP Government would at least allow equality in civil marriage if not religious. After all, the measure had already secured the support of a majority of MSPs and the Equality and Human Rights Commission report suggest sthat it has the support of over 60% of Scots. The Government’s plans have, however, attracted vocal opposition from some religious organisations.

However, the Government announced that it was delaying the decision and setting up a Cabinet Committee to “further examine some particular issues of detail”. A …

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The word ‘straight’ isn’t homophobic. Now can we get on to the stuff that matters, please?

Two significant events this week in the campaign for equal LGBT rights…

First, as we reported this week, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asked that the ‘Pride flag’ be flown from Whitehall to symbolise Government support for Saturday’s rally in London. As The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton-Dunn tweeted:

(The picture show here was taken by Verity Harding: you can follow her on Twitter here.)

Secondly, Nick Clegg voiced his personal support for religious gay marriage for those which wish to recognise and celebrate a same-sex union:

… in an interview with the London Evening Standard to mark the World Pride event, Mr Clegg said: “This is a personal view at the moment, but I think that in exactly the same way that we shouldn’t force any church to conduct gay marriage, we shouldn’t stop any church that wants to conduct gay marriage. I don’t see why two individuals who love each other and want to show commitment to each other should not be able to do so in a way that is socially recognised as being marriage.”

A couple of weeks ago, Nick recorded this message — described by Attitude as “a really passionate, well-articulated support for equal marriage” — for Out for Marriage:

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Clegg orders Government to fly LGBT pride flag

PinkNews today reports:

In a first for central Government, the Cabinet Office is flying a rainbow flag to mark World Pride being held this weekend in London.

The iconic flag has been flown on the personal request of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Officials say that Mr Clegg thought it ‘was about time for Whitehall to bring itself up to date’ by flying the flag in solidarity with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “There has to be a first time for everything – flying this iconic flag in the heart of

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Opinion: It is time to pick a fight and show we are serious about institutionalised faith based homophobia

At the next general election Liberal Democrats should look forward to being able to point to the introduction of same sex marriage as a Liberal Democrat achievement. Although the move is supported by some Conservatives, it has only happened because of Lib Dem pressure.

That the Party has made the issue such a high priority, especially when working with a conservative Party, helps to communicate to the public how much we care about equality for LGBT people, and is something that we should be able to draw collective pride. However, the Government is still failing in its commitment on page 29 of …

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Tim Farron MP writes… Equal Marriage consultation: take part and spread the word

One of our fundamental values as a party is our firm belief in equality. This is why I am member of our party and why I am so proud to be your President. We have always stood for individual liberty and the right to choose how we lead our lives. That’s why we came into being in the 19th century to protect the rights of religious minorities, it’s why we led the support for equality for women and why we decided before any other major party that civil marriage should be open to same-sex couples equally. The Liberal Democrats in …

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Opinion: Don’t believe everything you read in the papers…

I’ve learnt again this week that it’s not a good idea to believe everything you read in the papers. In this case, it was a story in the Sunday Telegraph suggesting that the Government were changing the wording of “Academy Funding Agreements” on the teaching of marriage. Thankfully, it turned out to be a non-story.

Academy Funding Agreements are the governing documents for academies and Free Schools and are agreed between the Secretary of State and the governing body of the Academy, and the story suggested there were “strict new rules” about marriage.

However, a bit of digging …

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Opinion: HIV Restrictions on NHS workers are “Out of Step”

As Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, I welcome the government’s announcement to consult and determine whether restrictions on NHS workers with HIV, should be relaxed, after a review found an “extremely” low risk of the disease being passed on to patients.

Alongside the Blood Ban announcement in July, which for me was only a small step in the right direction (as there is further work to do); because the stigma remains for men who sleep with men and their partners, with a 12 month deferral ban, the signal from government strikes the right tune at how current policy is being determined. …

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Video: Lynne Featherstone on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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PODCAST: Equal marriage debate

After a brief hiatus during which our podcast host migrated us to an account we hadn’t asked for during our busiest week, we can now bring you, in full, the debate on LGBT marriage from Tuesday’s conference floor.

This debate may not necessarily be of interest to the wider public, but certainly anyone who loves Lib Dem conference will recognise many of the aspects of the debate.

Highlights for me include Dr Evan Harris’s explanation, in the opening minutes of the debate of his stint as the only openly gay Lib Dem MP despite not actually being gay; the Voice’s own Sara …

Play
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