Manchester Pride message from Jeremy Corbyn

As LGBT Labour prepares for a fantastic two days at Manchester Pride, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has sent his own message of support. Corbyn has said:

"Pride is a very special time of year when the LGBT+ community sends a message of love, celebration and positivity all around the world.

"Manchester has a proud history of radicalism and community spirit. At the core of Manchester’s identity is a proud commitment to celebrating the strength of the community, and fighting for social justice.

"It was a previous Labour council in Manchester which fought Section 28, and the current Manchester City council is continuing to do groundbreaking work on LGBT causes. It was in Manchester that Allan Horsfall founded the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

"This year, around the world, as well as at home, we've seen shocking cases of homophobia, such as the brutal treatment of gay men in Chechnya. Nobody should suffer discrimination for who they love, wherever they are. Whilst we mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, we must also encourage other countries to tackle homophobic injustices.

"The Labour Party is the party of equality. Our strength is our diversity and I am proud to work alongside so many talented LGBT colleagues. As one of Labour’s most active socialist societies, LGBT Labour has been a consistent campaigning and celebrating presence at Pride celebrations across the country this year.

"Enjoy yourself today. Celebrate how far we have come along the road to equality and cherish the solidarity you give one another. Have a happy and memorable Manchester Pride."

We thank Jeremy for his support and look forward to a great turnout in the Pride parade, and on our stall in the expo!

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Fire Brigades Union and Trans issues

LGBT Labour is dismayed at recent comments made by an official from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) regarding trans people. 

Paul Embery, who is a member of the FBU's National Executive Committee, made inappropriate comments about trans people on Twitter on 23 July. This was later reported by Pink News. Mr Embery has previously made other inappropriate comments regarding LGBT issues.

LGBT Labour Co-Chairs Ian Thomas and Sarah Kerton have written to Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the FBU, requesting that a statement is issued regarding this incident as a matter of urgency.

You can read their letter to Matt Wrack here.

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Response to Gender Recognition Act reform proposals

Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, Sarah Champion MP, and LGBT Labour welcome the Government’s decision to unite with Labour to allow self-declaration for a Gender Recognition Certificate. However, LGBT Labour’s Trans Officer, Dr Heather Peto warned that the Tory-DUP deal could mean trans and non-binary people in Northern Ireland may not enjoy the same rights as those in mainland Britain or Ireland.

Labour’s 2017 Manifesto committed to implementing the Women and Equalities Select Committee Trans Report.  On 18 July 2017 the Labour Leader, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP, offered Labour’s parliamentary support to a cross party Bill.  Mr Corbyn told a Pink News Reception at Speakers House that discrimination of trans and non-binary people has gone on too long.

“The Gender Recognition Act does not allow trans people to self-identify their gender and forces them to undergo invasive medical tests. This is wrong.” He told Mrs May to “Bring forward a Bill to update the Gender Recognition Act and improve trans rights and Labour will back you.”

Justine Greening MP responded by announcing this weekend that the Government would published a Bill in the Autumn.

Sarah Champion MP said "I am relieved the Government are finally doing the right thing and updating the law to better support trans and non-binary people.

"The level of discrimination, abuse and intimidation trans gender people face, especially young trans, is totally unacceptable. I am optimistic that by changing legislation we can start to change attitudes and create a safe culture where everyone is respected."

However, Dr Peto, LGBT Labour’s Trans Officer and candidate for Rutland and Melton in the General Election sounded a note of caution. “The government have not said whether they will extend self-declaration to Northern Ireland.  Because of the Tory-DUP deal we might have an absurd situation where trans people can change their gender in Ireland and mainland Britain through self-declaration but not in Northern Ireland.”

Dr Peto dismissed comments made by Andrew Marr that people like him might simply declare they are a woman and retire early with a State Pension. “It was a baseless point, the Bill contains a safeguard of a statutory declaration and to make a false declaration is an offense. There has been no example of a similar Act in Ireland being misused.”

LGBT Labour are also committed to bringing in the right to declare as non-binary, and include a non-binary category in government forms and passports similar to that used in Australia where a person can declare their gender as X.

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Silence from the Prime Minister on Chechnya is deafening

Today, LGBT Labour Co-Chairs Ian Thomas and Sarah Kerton wrote to the Prime Minister urging her to meet with the Russian Ambassador to end the detention and murder of gay men in Chechnya.

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Statement from LGBT Labour Committee on the Ken Livingstone decision

Last night, the Labour Party let down its Jewish members, and in doing so let down all of us who trust Labour to be the party of equality. 

There should be no place in the Labour Party for anti-semitism. Yet, after coming to the verdict that three charges against Ken Livingstone of bringing the party into disrepute had each been proven, the NCC refused to act. For us, this is a grave failing. While the decision to investigate Livingstone's further comments is one we welcome, the damage has already been done.
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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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