I couldn’t start this piece without saying yet again that I am incredibly proud of all that Labour has achieved by championing the fight for LGBTQ+ equality. We abolished Section 28, equalised the age of consent, created civil partnerships, and it was only through Labour votes that equal marriage became law.
While we are in the grip of Covid-19, I am more acutely aware than ever of the huge mountain we have to climb when it comes to addressing inequality. The latest ONS figures on coronavirus-related deaths show that disabled women are more than 11 times more likely to die than non-disabled women, and that black men are three times more likely to die than their white male counterparts.
We don’t know what the comparative figures are for LGBTQ+ people. But we do know that feeling unsafe at home while isolating and reduced access to healthcare, for example, will already be having a disproportionate impact for many.
The government has been too slow to protect us, leaving the most exposed at the mercies of the worst coronavirus can do. And although coronavirus has knocked the world for six, it was already the case that two in five trans people experienced hate crime, that one in four trans people have experienced homelessness at some point and that one in four trans people have been subjected to domestic violence.
Despite the fact that the government estimates there are approximately 200,000-500,000 trans people in the UK – less than 1% of the population – the government still feels completely able to use trans people as a distraction from their failings.
In the context of a fraught debate on rights, intersectionality matters. While I really do want to celebrate all the progress made – and the labour movement’s role in making that happen – I also know that there is still a long way to go on issues such as education, levels of LGBTQ+ hate crime, and mental and physical wellbeing.
Labour stands in solidarity with the trans community. Trans rights are human rights and our party is committed to both updating the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and upholding the Equality Act 2010. I want to say thank you for all that you have done to make sure that Labour can be proud of our history of advancing LGBTQ+ rights: I know it takes courage and can be very hard to stand up and make your voice heard.
Over the coming weeks, as we move to respond to the government’s proposals – which are still not published – our discussions will be conducted on the basis of fact and respect. I will make sure not just to meet with but also to listen to and understand LGBTQ+ communities and women to ensure we put in place the appropriate policies that protect and respect everyone’s rights.
This Global Pride Day, I hope we can celebrate together all that we have achieved for our LGBTQ+ rights, our healthy relationships and our wellbeing. I know we’ve got lots more to do and that these are challenging times, but I look forward to working with you to achieve even more in the future.