Election for Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour

Welsh Labour is holding elections for its Deputy Leader, with the winner to be announced at the annual Welsh Labour Conference on 21 April 2018.

Whilst LGBT Labour is not making a nomination, we are giving our members the opportunity to read information from the candidates, including their responses to questions from members on LGBT issues. If you are a paid-up member of LGBT Labour, and you live in Wales, then you will be entitled to vote in the Deputy Leadership Contest.

The two declared candidates are:

  • Carolyn Harris MP
  • Julie Morgan AM

 

Please see their responses below.

 

CAROLYN HARRIS MP 

Statement

As a Labour MP I know that I stand proudly on the shoulders of our colleagues who fought hard for LGBT rights in legislation and for the social change to go along with them. Our work is not done, and that’s why as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, I’m working with our team in Westminster to fight for the rights trans* people need, and to make sure we don’t let rights and protections for LGBT people slip backwards.

Here in Wales Labour has shown what happens when LGBT people are listened to and represented - launching Wales’ first gender clinic just this year, for example.

I’ve a track record of campaigning, and I’ve had recent success with my national campaign for a Children’s Funeral Fund, as well as wide recognition for my work with 1950s born women who’ve been robbed of their pensions, and fighting for a reduced stake for fixed-odds betting terminals.

As the first Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour I’d work with and stand up for LGBT Labour members, and LGBT people in all our communities, to make sure every voice is heard and represented.

Questions
1. As a leading member of the Labour Party, how have you contributed to furthering LGBT equality?

I’ve been a passionate campaigner for equality throughout my life and stood shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community campaigning on issues ranging from equal marriage to gender recognition to the end of Section 28. As Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, I work closely with the LGBT community to make sure all voices are heard within the party, and our policy-making processes.

Our Party has a proud history of championing equality: equalising the age of consent; scrapping the bigoted Section 28; introducing Civil Partnerships; voting through equal marriage; passing the Gender Recognition Act and the landmark Equality Act.

As a member of Labour’s Women and Equalities team, it’s my priority now to make sure we can build on these successes when we get back into government; including further action to tackle discrimination and promote trans* rights.

As a campaigning constituency MP, I work closely with a truly wonderful organisation in Swansea called Unity. Unity works with LGBT refugees and asylum seekers who face very specific issues, and are often treated badly as a result of this government’s policies. 

2. The role of the deputy leader is particularly important in the structures and organisation of the party. What would you do to ensure better representation of LGBT people both in elected roles within the party in Wales, and as elected representatives at every level?

This new role would be a chance to really showcase the campaigning talent in Welsh Labour.  I’m a born campaigner and I love nothing more than hitting the streets and talking about Labour’s positive message of change.

I’m so proud to have worked with LGBT Labour and LGBT Labour Wales on a number of campaigns. I’m a regular attendee at Pride Cymru and I’ve helped to re-establish Swansea Pride with Swansea Councillor Elliot King.

I’d use my profile to highlight campaigns by LGBT Labour and LGBT Labour Wales and to support LGBT members standing for election.

As a party, diversity is our strength. If elected as Deputy Leader, I’d work with LGBT members to increase the number of people standing for elections as well as for positions within the Party. Let me also be clear that while some might question the inclusion of trans* women on all-women shortlists, I do not. Trans* women are women and I will be their champion at Welsh Labour.

Mentoring programmes, training events and working with our trades union colleagues are all vital if we are to realise the true potential of our LGBT members and activists.

3. Trans* and non-binary people can face specific barriers to being active inside the Labour Party and in holding elected office. How would you reach out to and engage with trans* members and the wider trans* community?

Despite the last Labour government’s unrivalled record of promoting equality, our society still has a job of work to improve trans rights.

As Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities my portfolio includes trans* rights. I’m working closely with Dawn Butler and our team to make sure we include the views and experiences of trans* people in our decision making on policy and campaigns to make sure we are able to stand up for trans* rights.

Within our Party it’s important that we encourage and develop trans* activists, candidates and support role models in Party roles and public life. The Welsh Government’s Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething AM, has shown what happens when Labour works effectively with the trans* community, having recently created Wales’ first gender identity clinic. It’s campaigns like this that I would be spearhead as Welsh Labour’s Deputy Leader – making sure the voices of all our communities are heard and taken into account by decision makers.

4. What action would you take to change the way the party is structured and organised in a manner that promotes equality?

We all know that decisions made by diverse groups of people are better decisions. A range of personal experiences and circumstances, and the ability to listen to many more, is the best way to move our Party forward ensure that no-one is left behind.

The pursuit of fairness is the force that drives me in politics. I’ll keep fighting until a person’s potential is not limited by the place they were born; their sexual orientation; gender identity; ethnicity; disability or other characteristic.

Within the Party, this means that we work hard to give everyone the opportunity to play their part. With our recent surge in membership there are now enough members to expand and develop how our CLPs work. I’d like to see every CLP in Wales electing an LGBT officer, able to represent the voices of LGBT members in their constituency and support their development. I pledge to work with LGBT Labour and LGBT Labour Wales to support and encourage our LGBT activists to take on roles within the Party, and stand as candidates.

 

JULIE MORGAN AM

Statement
As an MP from 1997-2010, I always voted for LGBT equality and rights and during this period, I fully supported the range of legislation that the Labour Government introduced. The legislation we passed did several critical things, such as equalising the age of consent, scrapping Section 28, introducing Civil Partnerships, giving LGBT parents the right to adopt etc. I am very proud that I was able to champion and vote for legislation which furthered LGBT equality in the UK. I am now, as an AM, proud to work in the National Assembly, which has been named Britain’s best employer for LGBT staff in Stonewall’s annual rating of LGBT-inclusive employers. The Assembly has been called a ‘trailblazer for equality’ and that is something that we should all be proud of.
I have lobbied the Health Minister for a gender clinic which is being set up in Cardiff which I know is so important to trans people.
I support reform of the Gender Recognition Act and self-identification for trans and non binary people.
I have always publicly and unequivocally supported the LGBT community and would like to see better representation of LGBT people at all levels of the party. If elected Deputy Leader, I would work with and support the LGBT community and make sure that the views and voices of LGBT people were heard loud and clear.

Questions

1. As a leading member of the Labour Party, how have you contributed to furthering LGBT equality?
I was an MP from 1997 to 2010 and during this time, I unequivocally supported legislation introduced by the Labour Government to further the advancement of LGBT equality.
As an MP, I always voted for LGBT equality and rights and fully supported the range of legislation that we introduced. The legislation we passed did several critical things:

  • It equalised the age of consent
  • It ended the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces
  • It gave LGBT parents the right to adopt
  • It scrapped the homophobic Section 28
  • It introduced Civil Partnerships
  • It enabled trans people to have their gender legally recognised (although this Act is now in urgent need of reform)
  • It protected the LGBT community from sexual orientation discrimination (in the Equality Act of 2010)

I am very proud that I was able to champion and vote for legislation which furthered LGBT equality in the UK.

I am also now, as an AM, proud to work in the National Assembly, which has been named Britain’s best employer for LGBT staff in Stonewall’s annual rating of LGBT-inclusive employers. The Assembly has been called a ‘trailblazer for equality’ and that is something that we can all be proud of in Wales.

2. What advancement in LGBT rights have you supported and which you are most proud of and why?
I strongly supported all advancement of LGBT rights as an MP, but I am very proud that I could play a part in this advancement in my non-political work life. Before I was an MP, I worked for Barnardo’s and led on adoption and fostering. I played a major role in removing the restrictions on LGBT people adopting. I was involved in supporting some of the first placements. I thought that this was a really important move – it helped to give children stable homes and supported the rights of LGBT people to parent. At the time, I remember being very moved by some of the families I had contact with and it felt like a very important thing to be doing.

I also think it is important to show support at public events celebrating the LGBT community and to stand in solidarity with the community. I have always supported Mardi Gras in Cardiff and now the Cardiff Pride march – it is wonderful to see how it has grown over the years and it is an event that I always look forward to.

3. The role of the deputy leader is particularly important in the structures and organisation of the party. What would you do to ensure better representation of LGBT people both in elected roles within the party in Wales, and as elected representatives at every level?
I am standing in this election as a strong supporter of One Member One Vote. I strongly believe that the voice of all members should be taken into account in the decision-making process of our party. At present, I think that there are a number of issues surrounding democracy in the party that we need to resolve, so one of my first acts would be to call a special Democracy Conference to hear different views from different communities, including the LGBT community.

I think that people are more likely to get involved in politics and more likely to stand as candidates if they know that they have a voice and that their views will be valued. As AM for Cardiff North, I already take my trademark red gazebo around my constituency to provide a place where people can come and freely raise issues and express their views. If elected, I would do the same thing, but on a national level – I would go out and listen to the LGBT community and would make sure that the views of LGBT people were heard.

I would also make sure that we provided safe spaces for people to express their views. For example, I know that trans people are often afraid to go to unfamiliar places, or even leave the house, due to fear of ridicule. It would therefore be important to reach out to this community and to go to where they are and to where they feel safe.

From my experience working with Stonewall on several occasions to address anti-LGBT bullying, I know how important it is to make sure that such behaviour is not tolerated. If there are complaints about the attitude towards or treatment of LGBT people, they need to be dealt with speedily and fairly and the process needs to be clear to all. Any anti-LGBT sentiment would be completely unacceptable.

Making it clear that the Labour Party is a completely safe place for LGBT people would, I hope, mean that people would feel empowered and feel confident about getting involved at every level. This would then mean that there would ultimately be better representation of the LGBT community in the party.

I think that greater representation can also be achieved by establishing a mentoring programme for LGBT people interested in getting involved in the party. I would also liaise with LGBT officers in CLPs and LGBT Labour to look at issues and work out resolutions. It would be very important to try and bring officers and groups together: individuals working alone can feel isolated.

4. What action would you take to change the way the party is structured and organised in a manner that promotes equality?
The structure and organisation of our party should truly reflect the diversity of our membership – the full range of our members needs to have a presence at every level. To this end, I would encourage all CLPs to appoint LGBT officers to take forward the views of the community and advocate on behalf of LGBT members. I also think that we should consider ensuring that there is a specific LGBT representative on the Welsh Executive Committee and for there to be similar representation on the National Executive Committee.