As a leading member of the Labour party, how have you contributed to furthering LGBT equality? What advancements in LGBT rights have you supported which you are most proud of and why?
I am proud to have been one of the first frontbench Labour politicians to speak out for this equal marriage in 2010. But there is still more to do. I will champion the cause of LGBT people in Britain and around the world. Two years ago, WWII code-breaker Alan Turing received a Royal Pardon for his cruel conviction for gross indecency. I am leading calls for a blanket statutory pardon to remove this dark chapter from our national history. Looking to the future, I will continue to support efforts to tackle homophobic bullying in our schools, and will ensure that all children are educated about equal relationships, including in faith schools. And I have called for a thorough review of the gay blood donation ban. Being gay is not a risky lifestyle – in my view, we should be measuring risk on behaviour rather than sexuality.
As leader what will you do to ensure legal recognition and improved rights protection for trans* and non-binary people?
I was pleased to see that Stonewall has recently extended its remit to include trans people. As Leader I will work closely with LGBT Labour, Stonewall and other groups representing trans group to improve their rights. This will include ensuring that alienation from spouses does not stand in the way of trans people obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate.
LGBT rights around the world
The world is increasingly dividing into two halves on LGBT rights. More and more countries are improving their LGBT protections and legal rights. However many countries with poor LGBT rights records are introducing laws that persecute LGBT people. How would you ensure the UK protects LGBT rights around the world?
I think the UK could do a lot more to champion LGBT rights overseas, and I applaud the US Government’s appointment of Randy Berry as its LGBT envoy. I would take a similar approach to engender ownership and accountability of this issue. As Leader, I would take a pragmatic and strategic approach to our overseas relationships. LGBT rights can be promoted and protected in many different ways, and our diplomatic relationships can be means through which we can place pressure on countries to improve their human rights and LGBT rights records.
Many LGBT young people experience bullying, discrimination and a curriculum which doesn’t meet their needs. How would you ensure we have an education system which support LGBT young people? Would you ensure sex and relationship education for all children in all schools? Would you change current exemptions to equality legislation in schools?
Every young person should grow up understanding the importance of equality in marriage and relationships, and schools should be taking a zero-tolerance approach to homophobic bullying. I want all schools to provide comprehensive sex and relationship education, including about same sex relationships, regardless of their faith status.
Immigration and asylum
How would you protect LGBT asylum seekers, ensuring that they are treated fairly and with dignity?
The Tories are demonising asylum seekers and using unpleasant dehumanising language to describe people escaping desperate situations in Africa and the Middle East. I will be a strong Opposition against their damaging language and damaging policies, and will ensure that Britain remains a safe haven for those who would face persecution and death for their sexuality in their home country.
How would you tackle the growing divide in equality for LGBT communities in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK?
The whole area of LGBT rights in Northern Ireland needs to take a major step forward. I know Labour Party members are in the forefront of the campaigning in the province and they will always have my full and unbridled support.
On a related matter, I am a long term supporter of the principle that the members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland should have the right to decide when and where they want to stand candidates in elections. If those members decide that, at election time, the people of Northern Ireland need a socialist, non-sectarian party to vote for, then we should not stand in their way. If elected Leader, I will support an immediate review of the current prohibition on Labour Party candidates and will seek the views of the Irish Labour Party as to how best we can assist the very many Labour Party members and supporters in Northern Ireland.
What action would you take to support LGBT Labour and LGBT people within the party? How would you ensure increased numbers of LGBT people are selected to represent the party at all levels? Do you agree there should be a reserved space for LGBT Labour and Disability Labour on the NEC?
The NEC and the Labour Shadow Cabinet should be fully representative of the country that we serve. I’ve always said I want a diverse and balanced front bench, and I would be happy to review options for reserved spaces on the NEC. I will work closely with LGBT Labour to ensure that our Party attracts a diverse range of candidates and to guarantee that the Labour Party continues to campaign tirelessly for LGBT rights. And polls show that I’m the only candidate who the general public and Labour voters will get behind. I can deliver a Labour Government in 2020 on the back of bold Labour policies, and ensure that we make the country a fairer and more equal place for all.