Ant 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 We thought we’d got rid of this nonsense when Labour repealed the hated Tory Section 28 but you only have to scratch the surface of the modern Tory party to uncover this ugly face.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.