I’m proud of the part Labour has played in championing LGBT rights – from repealing the homophobic Section 28, to equalising the age of consent. The military is now recognised by Stonewall as amongst the top employers for LGBT people. The champagne corks have popped at thousands of same-sex weddings. Yet, as we rightly celebrate how far we’ve come, let’s not forget that the journey isn’t over and many of the challenges that lie ahead will not be as easy to solve through Acts of Parliament.
We must now show a real determination to challenge the casual homophobia and the transphobia that leave so many LGBT people feeling isolated and alone - starting with the playground bullying, which causes low self-esteem in too many of our young people and can lead to serious mental health problems later down the line.
Devastating figures show that one in every twenty gay or bisexual women have attempted suicide. LGBT people are at a higher risk of suicidal feelings and self-harm. Half of all trans* young people attempt to take their own life. Each of these shocking figures is a deep scar on our country’s record of advancing LGBT equality and should be a wake-up call to everyone who thinks that equality has been won.
Many of the new frontiers lie in demanding cultural and societal change – and through actions like making sex and relationships education compulsory in schools and ensuring homophobic hate crime an aggravated offence – Labour must show the same determination to tackle them as the challenges that have come before.
As a leading member of the Labour party, how have you contributed to furthering LGBT equality? What advancements in LGBT rights have you supported which you are most proud of and why?
Yvette is extremely proud to have supported each of the steps forward in LGBT equality taken by the previous Labour Government.
However, in the previous Parliament, as Minister for Women and Equality, she is most proud to have led Labour’s campaign for same sex marriage and worked fastidiously to ensure the Same Sex Marriage Act was passed with Labour votes. Through the passage of this Bill, she also campaigned successfully to ensure those religious groups that wanted to, were able to celebrate same sex marriage.
As Shadow Home Secretary and after listening to the concerns of LGBT Labour, she also pledged to make homophobic hate crime an aggravated criminal offence, with updated sentencing guidelines and changes made to the criminal records framework, so these crimes are clearly recorded on the records of perpetrators.
As leader what will you do to ensure legal recognition and improved rights protection for trans* and non-binary people?
Despite the significant steps forward in equality for LGB people in recent years, Yvette believes that there is still a lot to be done to ensure dignity, respect and empowerment for trans* and non-binary people. If she becomes the next Leader of the Labour Party, she has committed to a wide-ranging review of the inequalities still faced, including looking again at the Gender Recognition Act, and consideration of the Australian rules on passports. She is also determined that the Labour Party’s own communications will be more inclusive of trans* and non-binary people too.
LGBT rights around the world
The world is increasingly dividing into two halves on LGBT rights. More and more countries are improving their LGBT protections and legal rights. However many countries with poor LGBT rights records are introducing laws that persecute LGBT people. How would you ensure the UK protects LGBT rights around the world?
Yvette believes that equality is one of Labour’s core values and is one we must project abroad. She is supportive of more action to promote and advance equality around the world and believes Philip Hammond’s decision to ban embassies from flying the rainbow flag was appalling as it was regressive. She is proud that Labour has taken a different approach and appointed Michael Cashman as a special envoy on worldwide LGBT issues and would continue to support him in this vital role.
Many LGBT young people experience bullying, discrimination and a curriculum which doesn’t meet their needs. How would you ensure we have an education system which support LGBT young people? Would you ensure sex and relationship education for all children in all schools? Would you change current exemptions to equality legislation in schools?
Yvette believes that a new push on tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools should start with the introduction of compulsory sex and relationships education. There is a lot more that the Government could be doing to talk to all young people about healthy relationships and equal respect. This is an issue that Yvette raised consistently and passionately in the last Parliament, but unfortunately, the Tories blocked progress. Yvette has seen first hand the fantastic work some schools are already doing to tackle these issues head-on and as leader of the Labour Party, she would champion much stronger action to promote respect and equality in our schools.
Immigration and asylum
How would you protect LGBT asylum seekers, ensuring that they are treated fairly and with dignity?
Yvette believes there needs to be new guidance and stronger rules in place to make sure LGBT people are treated with dignity and that the right decisions in the asylum system are made. Right now, too often, poor training in the Home Office and out of date attitudes result in bad decision-making and offensive behavior. Simply, Yvette believes that we should offer safe haven to those fleeing violence and persecution because of their sexuality.
How would you tackle the growing divide in equality for LGBT communities in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK?
Yvette is a passionate supporter of equality and wants to see all communities across the UK take steps forward. She is therefore keen to work with LGBT communities in the UK, to see how any gaps in equality can be bridged.
What action would you take to support LGBT Labour and LGBT people within the party? How would you ensure increased numbers of LGBT people are selected to represent the party at all levels? Do you agree there should be a reserved space for LGBT Labour and Disability Labour on the NEC?
Yvette believes it is vital that both the Labour Party and Labour candidates reflect the diversity of our membership and the country. As Leader of the Labour Party, she would be very keen to work with LGBT Labour to determine the best way forward in supporting LGBT members at all levels in the Party, as well as discussing how the NEC could better represent our diverse membership.