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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How can Labour win a mandate in 2015?

Last week LGBT Labour and Progress hosted a debate on how Labour can win a majority in 2015.

The event, one in a series held between Progress and different trade unions and socialist societies, as part of their Campaign for a Labour Majority, brought together Gloria De Piero MP, Shadow Women's and Equalities Minister; Chris Oxlade, Labour candidate for Crawley; Finn McGoldrick, NUS LGBT Officer, Sarah Garett, managing director of Square Peg Media and me as co-chair of LGBT Labour.

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Gloria De Piero letter to David Cameron asking for clarification of the Women and Equalities portfolio

Following the announcement that Nicky Morgan will be the Minister for Women ‘attending Cabinet’ and Sajid Javid will have responsibility for Equalities, Gloria De Piero MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, has written to the Prime Minister.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA

 

9th April, 2014

Dear Prime Minister,

Following today's announcement that Nicky Morgan MP will be replacing Mrs Miller as Minister for Women in an 'attending Cabinet' role and Sajid Javid MP will be responsible for Equalities as Secretary of State for Culture I write to ask clarification on the following points:

1.      Who has overall responsibility for the Government Equalities Office?

2.      Which department does the new Minister for Women relate to, and who does she report to on this portfolio?

3.      Which Minister is ultimately accountable to Parliament on these issues?

4.      How will the Government ensure that issues that particularly impact on women are properly addressed and fully integrated within Government policy?

In addition I ask for your assurances that all of these matters were given proper consideration and discussed with officials before today's appointments were made.

I look forward to your response on this matter.

Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities

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“Some children have two daddies, some have two mummies, and that's alright”

As Olympians, media, and government officials from around the world stream into Sochi this week for the Winter Games, all eyes will be on the sport-packed action. Sochi's sporting feats, human courage, and exciting victories will be at the heart of the Games, but so too will the style of winning. Journalists are beginning to speculate that the suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia will lead winners to accept their medals with gestures of solidarity with LGBT people. 

Legislation passed last year by the Duma seeks to curtail the rights of LGBT people in Russia. This state-sanctioned homophobia is a reminder of how far we have come in the UK because of the hard work of our Labour Governments. But, for me personally, Russia stirs memories of my years working in parts of the developing world where, on occasions I witnessed homophobia.

I've always believed you're either equal or you're not. Nobody is half-equal. Working in the developing world from the 1990s, where kicking up a fuss about anti-gay slurs would have landed me in very tricky situations, I did the best that I could: I protested by walking out of rooms and privately challenging opinions.

I wish I could have done more while working in the developing world. That's one of many reasons why I strongly support LGBT rights and why I unreservedly backed equal marriage. I am proud of Labour MPs for supplying the crucial votes needed to pass the Equal Marriage Bill just as I am proud of the last Labour Governments for bringing in civil partnerships, lowering the age of consent, scrapping Section 28, and giving legal recognition to Trans people's true gender. I want to be a Labour MP partly because I want to advance equality and LGBT rights in our country.

Becoming a mother to two young children has also shaped my outlook on equality and deepened my unhappiness with Russia’s anti-gay laws. I want my children to grow up in a world where, whoever they are, they are equal, and I take my son and daughter to Reading Pride to make this point. I am proud that this message is shaping their outlooks.

On our way home from the LGBT Labour stall at last year’s Reading Pride, my son Benedict was stopped in the street by an older gentleman who wanted to know what his many, many 'Never Kissed A Tory' stickers were all about. With complete confidence, my son explained, "Well, some children have two daddies, some have two mummies, and that's alright". 

I want to help shape our society to become even more inclusive and diverse. I am saddened by the abandonment of any effort to become an equal and inclusive society in Russia. Our Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria de Piero is right when she says that Culture Secretary Maria Miller must represent our values when she is in Sochi and show solidarity with LGBT Russians by raising the Government’s concerns about LGBT rights with Russian officials.

We have done so much in the Labour Party to promote LGBT rights at home and around the world. In the years ahead, we can do more to change social attitudes in our country and help LGBT activists in places holding out against the tide of history, like Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia.

I believe it is important to be explicit about where you stand, so when I discovered that I could sign up as a supporting member of LGBT Labour, I did so immediately. You don’t have to be LGBT to sign up and if you want to help LGBT Labour to keep doing its brilliant job of explaining why Labour is the best and natural champion of LGBT causes, please sign up here: http://www.lgbtlabour.org.uk/join.

Together we can help to ensure that every single person is treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of their societies. We should build a more equal and inclusive society in our country, not only because it’s right and proper, but because it gives those suffering in homophobic societies an example that they can draw on, a way to imagine a changed world where they too are treated fairly.

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Tories fail to support EU roadmap against homophobia

News from the
European Parliamentary Labour Party

Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Strasbourg
For Immediate Use

Tory MEPs fail to support EU roadmap against homophobia

Tory MEPs have refused to vote for the European Union roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report, which has been successfully voted through by the European Parliament - despite intense external lobbying - calls on the European Commission to make proposals for non-discrimination in employment, education, health and access to goods and services.

It also calls for the Commission to make proposals for non-discrimination in the fields of: citizenship, families and free movement; freedom of assembly and expression; hate speech and hate crime; asylum and migration; and foreign affairs, whilst at the same time recognising national governments' sole responsibility in some of these areas.

Michael Cashman MEP, co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT rights, led the Socialist & Democrats Group to support the report.

He said:

"I'm extremely proud that the Parliament chose to support this crucial report. It is balanced, sensible, and fair. We won the vote with a clear majority, and it's now this parliament's firm position, which we'll advance over the next few years.

"Sadly the Tories reverted to type by refusing to support this report. They believe what happens to LGBTI people outside the UK and UK citizens travelling around the European Union has no importance for them. David Cameron's line on 'equality for all' rings hollow and insincere."

All Labour MEPs voted in favour of the Report and have signed the election pledge for LGBTI equality in advance of the 2014 European Elections.

ENDS

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Stand up for LGBTI people in Europe

The European Parliament will vote today on the Lunacek Report, which will adopt a “roadmap” to protecting and increasing LGBT rights throughout the EU. People in the UK may not be surprised that many countries in the EU, in particular those relatively new to the EU, do not have a very good record on human rights for LGBT people. What people may not realize is that many of the more long-standing members of the EU, such as Italy, also have no anti-discrimination protection legislation in place.

The Lunacek report for the first time enshrines protection for LGBTI people within European structures, and calls for a comprehensive ten year policy to safeguard and promote these rights.

There is much opposition to LGBT rights in Europe, and homophobic forces, largely on the political and “religious” right, are trying to derail it. Defeat of this report sends a worrying signal to those who seek to perpetuate homophobic and transphobic discrimination.

There is a powerful and organized movement lobbying against extending rights for LGBT people. Therefore it is vital that as many as possible MEPs support this, including our UK MEPs.

Labour has a strong record of promoting LGBT rights in Europe, in contrast to the Conservative track record, and there has been much comment on the Tories friends in Europe. But we need you to lobby your Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs to make sure that they won’t be voting with their far-right friends and will allow LGBTI people across Europe the chance to experience rights like we do in the UK.

You can find out more information on the ILGA-Europe website and people can also tweet their MEPs using the hashtag #LunacekYES.

This is very important and will make a huge difference to LGBT rights everywhere in the EU from Galway to Gdansk and Ljubljana to Lisbon. It is worth remembering that the safest, most liberal place ever in Europe for LGBT people was Germany between 1918 and 1933. This illustrates how dramatically and quickly our hard-won rights and freedoms can change. It is important that we ensure this does not happen again.

 

Natacha Kennedy is LGBT Labour's International Officer

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