The Equality Countdown to 2015

5th July, 2014 11:42 am

Written by Tom Burke and Bev Craig , the National Co-Chairs of LGBT Labour

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of LGBT Labour. Emerging as the Gay Labour Group, it was a sign of new urgency for lesbian, gay and bisexual people to claim their rights and fight inequality. As the group has grown in size and scope – now embracing and including the Trans community – we have grown in strength.


This has been echoed by the significant growth in support for LGBT equality within the British public. In 1983, half of all people believed same sex relationships were “always wrong”. By 2012, the figure turned around with very nearly half of all people believing it was “not wrong at all”. This shift has both been shaped by political leadership, especially by the commitment shown by the previous Labour Government, but it also shaped it; such as the support for same sex marriage.

This progress can make some LGBT people, and more commonly amongst some of our hetero allies, think that this progress in LGBT equality is unstoppable. Some seem to think that life is continually improving for LGBT people in the UK and that the fight has been won.

Try telling that to the one in six lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last three years; to the 55 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people have experienced direct bullying at schools; or, to the Trans men and women who see waiting lists for gender care services increase and face significant legal barriers to transitioning.

Indeed, this Tory-led Government has shown why we cannot be complacent and think progress is inevitable.

They have stripped back Labour’s Equality Act removing dual discrimination claims; continually attacked public sector equality duties; and tried to emasculate the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Act looks set to be axed.

They have introduced new fees for those facing discrimination at work; seeing a 75% decrease in claims on the grounds of sexual orientation (does anyone truly believe this is due to a reduction in discrimination in real life?). They opposed Labour’s moves to tackle patchy, poor and at times anti-LGBT prejudiced sex and relationship education.

Internationally, Tory MEPs failed to support an EU LGBT roadmap for equality. And the most progressive LGBT act of this Government – same sex marriage in England and Wales – only passed with more Tory MPs voting against the measure than for it. We have the ridiculous and offensive situation where we have a Minister for Women who doesn’t believe in equality for lesbians and bi women.

As the clock moves forward to the 2015 general election, we will be stepping up our work. Within the party, we are pushing for a 2015 manifesto that delivers for LGBT people: given the problems facing LGBT people this is not a time to be timid. Laws on gender identity need an overhaul and they need updating. Young people in schools require education that meets their needs. We need an international LGBT Rights Envoy to be a visible international campaigner on decriminalisation of homosexuality and to fight stated-backed homophobia and transphobia. Legal loop holes on hate crime should be closed and the Human Rights Act protected. We need a bold manifesto that inspires LGBT people, their heterosexual and cis friends and their families to vote for Labour.

Policies are just part of the countdown to 2015. To date, 18 new out LGBT candidates have been selected. We want to see even more LGBT people selected as candidates to ensure that a future Labour Government reflects the diversity of Britain. We continue to fundraise for our Chris Smith List to offer financial assistance to out candidates; especially supporting women candidates and those in the most marginal seats.

Most importantly, we need to make the case for Labour with the British people. We need to show that we are credible party of Government with the values, abilities and competence to lead the country. This summer and in the months ahead we will be mobilising our members across the country at Pride events and on the doorstep with our out candidates, to make the case for Labour. You can join us.

2015 will be a time to reflect on the past forty years; the journey we have made as a Socialist Society and as a country to working for LGBT equality. But, this is no time to just look backwards at progress made; too much is at stake for LGBT people today. We must secure a victory for Labour that sets the stage for progress for the years to come.


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