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 first of our series of 2015 Election articles, we feature 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?
It perhaps is not surprising that Same-sex Marriage would be our number one pick as a recent event, but our record stretches back much further. If we had to pick just two, another would be the submission of the original Civil Partnerships Bill in 2002 by Lord Lester, 2 years before the government of the day but still more progressive. The final one would be then-MP Alex Carlisle submitting a Gender Recognition Bill in 1998, kick-starting a 6 year process involving Human Rights rulings before the government finally and somewhat grudgingly passed the Gender Recognition Act.
2. What thing from the past have you perhaps learnt from or would do differently and why?
Keep pushing for what we know is right, despite what others are doing. We secured equal marriage even though we were lobbying not just other politicians and political parties but one of the largest LGB groups in the UK.
3. If you had to write a manifesto to the LGBT community, what would you focus on and why?
I believe we can let party policy speak on this - and unlike the other major parties, this is policy of the whole of the Liberal Democrats rather than just topics that the LGBT+ group are campaigning on. Policy currently includes fully equal marriage including ending the spousal veto, ending conversion therapy and blood donation bans, tackling LGBTphobic bullying in schools and in sport, non-binary gender markers on passports and more.
4. What will you be pushing for LGBT people through your party if you win the election in 2015?
Everything that is party policy from the list above, and more, in particular building on our achievements on Mental Health, an area that affects a great many LGBT people. One of the great things about being in the Liberal Democrats is that we're not just pushing for equality, we're often the ones setting the agenda in the first place. But even we don't know what changes in society or forthcoming legislation will mean for LGBT people in the next five years: Whatever happens, we'll be there fighting.
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)?
We have already changed the law so that being at risk of imprisonment, torture or death for your sexuality or gender identity is clear grounds for asylum. Liberal Democrat MPs and Ministers have also been lobbying, and will continue to lobby, so that the unacceptable demands from the Tory-run Home Office that people "prove" that they are LGBT before being granted asylum are ended. You may have already seen this week's announcement about our plan on global LGBT+ rights, which will also mean less people will live in fear of LGBT-based violence abroad in future.
6. What is your elevator pitch to the LGBT community of why you are the party of choice for them?
Simply this: The other major parties have had their chance, but it took a government with Liberal Democrats to actually deliver. No other party has both the will and the ability to do that.
The next article in this series will be on Labour. Join our website to comment on these articles.