Our Opposition To Cuts In HIV Services

It was revealed this week that over the past year there have been huge cuts to HIV support services across the UK with over a quarter of local authorities in England cutting contract values by a shocking 50%. The damaging news was revealed by The National Aids Trust and will no doubt bring further worry to HIV charities concerned about the future of these community services under this Tory Government.

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Axing of Housing Benefit for 18-21 year-olds

LGBT Labour condemns the Tory government for their decision to axe Housing Benefit for 18-21 year-olds - a decision the government attempted to sneak out on Friday afternoon, when Parliament was not in session.

The change, which comes into effect on 1 April, will only affect new claimants, and there will be some exceptions such as care leavers and those with dependent children. However, many will be left without a safety net.

LGBT+ youth are especially vulnerable. A 2015 study by the charity The Albert Kennedy Trust showed that as many as a quarter of homeless young people may be LGBT+.

LGBT Labour Co-Chair Sarah Kerton said: "We know that young LGBT+ people are disproportionately at risk of homelessness, and that removing Housing Benefit would effectively force many of them to go back to the family home. And for many LGBT+ youth even today, that's the last place they want to be, as it is a place where they are unsafe due to fears of violence and abuse because of their LGBT+ identity.

"It is therefore utterly shameful that the government should try and sneak this massive change under the radar, without a Commons vote. We would urge the Department of Work and Pensions to reconsider this decision."

Labour's Shadow Housing Minister John Healey has also condemned the move. He said: “This disgraceful cut to housing support will leave thousands of young people with nowhere to go. Many could end up on the streets." Healey pointed out that the "shameful doubling of rough sleeping since 2010 is a direct result of decisions [the government has] made. With this decision they will make the scandal of rising homelessness worse still."

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High Court ruling on PrEP

 

LGBT Labour welcomes the news today that the National AIDS Trust has won its court case against the decision by NHS England not to support PrEP on the grounds that it was ‘not responsible for commissioning of prevention services’. This was short-sight and has now been shown to be legally incorrect.

 

There are 110,000 people living with HIV in the UK and each year over 4,000 people are diagnosed with the virus. Big strides have been made in HIV detection and medication but PrEP has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in HIV prevention. If taken daily PrEP has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing the risk of HIV transmission. It is readily available in the United States and it had been expected to be made available in the UK following a successful recent study.

 

Ian Dylan Thomas, LGBT Labour co-chair said: “Today’s High Court ruling is very welcome and is a vindication of those who have been calling for PrEP to made available via the NHS.

 

“It is a hugely significant drug with the potential to be a game-changer in HIV prevention. Preventative medicine is extremely important and makes sense on both medical and cost grounds.

 

“NHS England should not be picking and choosing which preventative services they support and passing it down to local authority level will lead to a postcode lottery which will place the most vulnerable at the highest risk. It again shows the need for a clear and consistent public health strategy.

 

“It is very disappointing that NHS England has chosen to appeal this decision as this will add further delay. The focus should be on establish a plan to roll out PrEP and continuing the fight against HIV infection.”

 

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Appointment of Justine Greening as Minister for Women & Equalities

LGBT Labour welcomes the appointment of Justine Greening as the first out Minister for Women and Equalities. Given the significant percentage of members of the new cabinet that didn't support equal marriage we see this as an act of good faith to the LGBT+ community. We hope this appointment will mean the government will make progress on Transgender rights, inclusive sex and relationships education in all schools and PrEP to be made available via the NHS.

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Response to NHS decision to abandon PrEP rollout

LGBT Labour has described the news that a roll-out of a HIV-preventing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug has been abandoned as shocking and short-sighted. 

There are 110,000 people living with HIV here in the UK, and each year over 6,000 people are diagnosed with the virus. 

If taken daily PrEP has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing the risk of HIV transmission.  It is readily available to at-risk men in the United States, and was expected to be made available following a successful recent study here in the UK.

Sadly, NHS England yesterday announced that they would not be rolling out the drug because ‘NHS England is not responsible for commissioning prevention services’. 

In the House of Commons today, Labour MP Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) asked the Secretary of State for Health to put an end to these erratic and inconsistent decisions and commit to a public health strategy that prevents as well as treats HIV. 

Ian Dylan Thomas, LGBT Labour Co-Chair, said: “Thankfully real progress has been made in recent years in the detection and treatment of HIV, but it is clear we need a public health strategy that incorporates prevention as well as treatment and tackling social stigma. It is shocking that NHS England will only run test sites, which is in effect a postcode lottery of provision for around 500 men.

“I want to thank Catherine West MP for raising this important issue in the House of Commons today. I hope that Government listens to the concerns that she, and the LGBT community have raised.”

Catherine West MP said:  “When the Government passed the Health and Social Care Act they argued that it would help make the system clearer, but now that NHS England is picking and choosing which preventative services it will fund and which it won’t.

“Real progress has been made in recent years in the detection and treatment of HIV, but it is clear we need a public health strategy that incorporates prevention as well as treatment and tackling social stigma. I urge the Secretary of State to put an end to these erratic and inconsistent decisions and commit to public health strategy that prevents as well as treats HIV. “

 

Footnotes:

The Proud Study proved the clinical effectiveness of PrEP. The PROUD study measured the effectiveness of daily PrEP for gay and other men who have sex with men in England, reducing the risk of infection by 86%. The researchers concluded that PrEPoffers a major opportunity to curb new HIV infections in men who have sex with men in the UK.

Information regarding the Proud Study is here.

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Exempt poppers from the Government's blanket ban on “psychoactive substances.”

LGBT Labour calls on the Government to exempt poppers from a blanket ban on “psychoactive substances.”

Whilst we back the ban on the sale and distribution of dangerous psychoactive substances - which are a serious risk to public health - Labour believes that there is no evidence poppers cause harm and they are already subject to a successful regulatory regime.

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New ground-breaking report on the issues facing the transgender community

LGBT Labour has welcomed a ground-breaking report from the Women and Equalities Committee on the issues facing the transgender community. After considering the report, LGBT Labour agrees with its findings that trans people are being failed by this Government and that immediate action must be taken. 

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£25,000 raised for record number of LGBT Labour general election candidates

  • 35 openly-LGBT candidates standing for Labour on 7 May 
  • LGBT Labour has raised a record £25,000 to support LGBT candidates 
  • Money distributed through The Chris Smith List
  • The Chris Smith List was set-up in 2009 to support candidates in the 2010 general election
  • Over £40,000 distributed since the list was first established

 

 

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LGBT Labour to host #ThanksMichael event next Wednesday

Political and personal friends will gather to pay tribute to Michael Cashman for a lifetime of commitment to LGBT rights as he retires from the European Parliament after 15 years as a Labour MEP.

The event will be hosted by long-term friends and fellow campaigners Lisa Power and Simon Fanshawe who founded Stonewall alongside Micahael Cashman.

Tom Burke, Co-chair LGBT Labour, said:

“It's time to say #ThanksMichael on behalf of all those who have benefited from his commitment to LGBT equality and human rights around the world. That’s why LGBT Labour is delighted to be hosting this event for Michael Cashman.”

Simon Fanshawe, co-founder of Stonewall, Labour activist, broadcaster and diversity expert, said of Michael:

"Michael has always been an advocate. Whether in East Enders, as Chair of Stonewall, as an MEP or Chair of Labour’s NEC and he does it with a certain style and a definite twinkle of the eye.

“I have argued with him, fallen in and out with him. But we have remained friends because he always sees those who are committed to the same cause as allies in life as well as politics. He gives good fun, good leadership and takes good sides and it's a privilege to know him."

Lisa Power spent 14 years with LLGS (Switchboard), 17 years with Terrence Higgins Trust and worked with Michael, Simon and others to set up Stonewall. She has been an admirer of Michael's achievements and his style ever since, saying:

“Although Michael was a TV soap star when I first met him, he has always been an activist in my eyes, never too grand whether as an actor or a politician to get stuck in and personally confront injustice.

“He's an inspiration not just to me but to many others - to follow your dreams, to stand up for justice, to expect the same rights for all. He was key to the founding of Stonewall and our first Chair, driving us forward when few outside our core expected we could achieve much. He is the embodiment of my personal motto – ‘history is for interfering with’.”

To buy tickets for the event please go to www.lgbtlabour.org.uk/thanksmichael

 

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This election, vote for equality

Im_voting_Labour.jpgAnt McCaul, LGBT Labour Campaigns Officer and Tom Burke, National Co-Chair, highlight what the 2014 local and European elections mean for LGBT people.

As LGBT people across the country go to the polls tomorrow it’s increasingly clear that only Labour is the party of equality.

Another day, another homophobic remark made by a UKIP or Tory candidate about LGBT people. It’s depressing to see this 'little Englander' mentality which harks back to a time of prejudice and discrimination.

Most recently is the turn of a Tory candidate in Newham complaining that Ofsted is trying to impose a “homosexual agenda” on schools. We thought we’d got rid of this nonsense when Labour repealed the hated Tory Section 28 but you only have to scratch the surface of the modern Tory party to uncover this ugly face.

You might think this is an isolated incident but coming on the back of senior Tories complaining about “aggressive homosexual community” in the equal marriage debates last year the evidence is stacking up that you can’t truly trust the Tories with equality. Whilst of course, David Cameron should be congratulated and supported for his personal commitment; his Party continues to be split on the issue. In Europe Tory MEPs fail to support LGBT equality and in the Parliament more than half his MPs voted against Same Sex Marriage.

It is vital too, that LGBT people go out and vote to keep UKIP’s little England vision of yesterday at bay. Nigel Farage is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Members of his party are vitriolic in their attacks on LGBT people. Candidates loved Section 28 and even call for "poofters" to be shot. Openly homophobic candidates are selected as council, European and even Parliamentary candidates – witness MEP and now Parliamentary candidate Roger Helmer and his offensive views on LGBT rights.

Labour has a positive agenda on LGBT rights at home and abroad. Many of the changes that LGBT people enjoy today came about thanks to Labour’s support for LGBT equality.

Labour votes secured equal marriage. We don’t rest on our laurels though – Ed Miliband and Gloria De Piero have already announced that Labour will appoint an LGBT Rights ambassador to challenge abuse around the globe and review the gender recognition act in government so it is fit for modern society. Labour have also pledged to ensure that equality is at the heart of government with a full seat at the cabinet table fighting for equality across government. Contrast this with a Tory Women’s Minister who doesn’t support Lesbian women.

LGBT people heading to vote will consider local as well as national issues as they cast their vote. UNISON and National Centre for Social Research recent report on the impact of austerity on LGBT people shows the impact Tory-Lib Dem cuts are having on services for our communities. LGBT youth services are being cut by Tory council’s like Crawley. Fees for employment tribunal services mean that it is harder for LGBT people to tackle discrimination at work. A top-down costly reorganisation of the health service means that services for LGBT people are being squeezed out.

The cost of Cameron’s Conservatives for LGBT people is clear. Only Labour will deliver equality and bring about the cultural change we need to embed equal rights and challenge prejudice here at home, in Europe and across the world. 

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