Planet London asks Labour...

We wrote to the LGBT networks within Labour, Conservatives, Greens, Liberal Democrats and UKIP. We asked them all a set of 6 questions specifically around LGBT issues. The idea to be able to delve a little deeper into the things that matter to you and I, that are unlikely to feature in the mainstream manifesto, debates and political broadcasts.

In the second of our series of 2015 Election articles, we feature Labour.

Take a look at our first article from this series from the Liberal Democrats.

1.     What have been your party’s 3 proudest moments that have had a direct impact on the LGBT community to date?

The last Labour government saw the most significant advances toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people in British history. We repealed the Tories hated Section 28, a law that banned schools from talking about LGBT issues, equalised the age of consent, extended adoption and parenting rights to same-sex couples, introduced civil partnerships, the Gender Recognition Act, lifted the ban on gay people serving in the military, introduced protections so you couldn’t be fired from your job or refused a service because of your sexual orientation.

Each one of these laws made a huge practical difference to the lives of LGBT people. The party is incredibly proud of this progress.

2.     What thing from the past have you perhaps learnt from or would do differently and why?

We achieved lots for LGBT equality when in Government. However, this was a time where we faced lots of opposition in the press, religious groups and other political parties and even had to use the Parliament Act to push through an equal age of consent.

In the face of such stark opposition and a more socially conservative culture in the late 1990s we perhaps appeared cautious in the early days of our Government. Once the changes started they came thick and fast and we got bolder in the changes we made. Our initial legislation helped to shape public opinion and to give political and societal support for LGBT legislation. 

3.     If you had to write a manifesto to the LGBT community, what would you focus on and why?

Labour will once again be publishing an LGBT manifesto, as we have done in the last few elections. Labour is still the party best placed to deliver real and meaningful equality for the LGBT community. Some of our pledges so far include: supporting LGBT activists from around the world, continuing to focus on eradicating prejudice and discrimination against trans people with a comprehensive review looking into legislative and social change, strengthening hate crime legislation and step up the work in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in education, including introducing mandatory SRE.

4.     What will you be pushing for LGBT people through your party if you win the election in 2015?

It’s still illegal to be gay in nearly 80 countries around the world. LGBT people are disproportionately hit by violent crime and abuse on our streets. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia still blight the lives of young people in our schools and we’re failing a whole generation by not offering comprehensive and inclusive sex and relationship education. A Labour Government will tackle these issues head on.

5.     Where do you stand and what do you want to do about LGBT asylum in the UK (this is a very hot topic in the community right now)?

The Home Office is still failing LGBT asylum seekers who have fled to the UK in the face of unimaginable violence and persecution. We hear horror stories of people being asked to ‘prove’ that they are gay by showing graphic photos, describing their sex lives or even talking about what gay magazines they read or bars and cocktails they drink. These types of questions are stereotypical, intrusive and not fit for purpose. Being LGBT is a fundamental part of who you are. It’s not about which bar you listened to Kylie in. Every person working in the UK Border Agency needs to understand that through effective training and monitoring.

Another area of concern is that the High Court sets out clear guidance that cases relating to LGBT asylum should not be put through the fast track system, despite evidence to the contrary.

The Vine Review set out a number of clear recommendations that are not currently being adhered too, and ones that a future Government need to implement.

LGBT Labour will work with LGBT Asylum and immigration groups and activists such as our committee member Aderonke Apata, to ensure that a future Labour Government ensures fairness that respects the dignity of those that flee persecution to seek safety.

6.     What is your elevator pitch to the LGBT community of why you are the party of choice for them?

Labour has been the only party that has delivered LGBT equality. In government we repealed the Tories hated Section 28 and delivered a string of legislative changes that also changed hearts and minds for the better. It was Labour votes that secured marriage equality in this parliament. We believe there is much work to do, and we’ll always fight for LGBT equality, both in Britain and around the globe.

Coming soon:

Take a look at our first article from this series from the Liberal Democrats.

The next article in this series will be released after Easter. Join our website to comment on these articles.