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LGBT equality: what the manifestos say

Now that all of the main political parties have published their manifestos (which set out what each party would prioritise if they become the next government) we took a look at what each one says about LGBT issues. There is a lot to be encouraged by.

We’ve seen explicit commitments in the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party manifestos to:

  • tackle anti-LGBT bullying in our schools
  • ensure relationships and sex education in all schools is LGBT inclusive
  • reform the law so that hate crimes against LGBT people are treated as seriously as other hate crimes
  • change the way trans people have their gender identity officially recognised
  • extend protection against discrimination to all trans people by improving the Equality Act
  • improve the way LGBT people are treated in health and social care services
  • work with other countries to end violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

The Women’s Equality Party have committed to providing LGBT inclusive relationships and sex education in schools, improving approaches to online hate crime, and also addressing gender equality in schools and in the media, including the way lesbian, bi and trans women are represented.

UKIP makes some broad statements about LGBT people not being treated like second-class citizens, but it is set in the context setting other communities against each other and overall the manifesto sets out a programme where people are not accepted for who they are.

And they don’t address any of the specific issues that Stonewall has identified as LGBT priorities for the next parliament.

In Scotland and Wales many of these areas¸ such as health and education, are devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

What the different party manifestos say, and what they don’t say, is important. 

So, Plaid Cymru have in their manifesto only covered issues affecting Wales that are dealt with at Westminster, and included many more LGBT specific commitments in last year’s Welsh Assembly manifesto.

The SNP's manifesto also focuses on areas of equality dealt with by Westminster, such as expanding protection against discrimination to all trans and intersex people by improving the Equality Act, and extending historic pardons for consensual same sex relationships to gay and bi men who are still alive today.

They also commit to pressing the UK Government to reform Gender Recognition Law, in line with Scottish Government plans. Further commitments were also made in their 2016 Scottish Parliament Manifesto.

Yesterday the Conservative manifesto was published, and we’re pleased to see them committing to push forward with their plans to tackle hate crime, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s vital that this includes treating LGBT hate crime in the same way as other hate crimes, as outlined in our manifesto.

They have also pledged action to ensure people are safe online, including making that central to relationships and sex education in schools, and combating violence against people on the basis of their faith, gender and sexuality in an international context. All of this is positive for LGBT people.

However, many other areas of the Conservative manifesto have been less explicit on LGBT issues, focusing more broadly on ordinary working families. 

This election is about what sort of society we want to live in.

We must remember that many of these ordinary working families will of course include – and know – LGBT people, and it’s disappointing to not see them referenced directly in much of this manifesto.

We shouldn’t ever forget that even within larger communities, it’s important to recognise, support and value people’s differences. 

With this in mind, we hope that LGBT inclusion and equality is absolutely and unequivocally implicit in everything the Conservatives have committed to for the years ahead, in line with the extensive commitments Theresa May made on PinkNews earlier this week. We will continue to campaign on all the points outlined in our manifesto to ensure that LGBT equality remains firmly on the agenda.

A key area of concern for Stonewall is to keep in place the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – both of which underpin many LGBT rights and equalities we now rely on.  

We are really encouraged to see the SNP, Plaid Cymru, Labour, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Women’s Equality Party unequivocally commit to retaining both of these pieces of legislation.

However, we would like to see a stronger commitment from the Conservatives, who have committed to retaining the Human Rights Act while Brexit is being negotiated and the ECHR for the duration of the next parliament, but have yet to clarify what this could look like after this time.

Worryingly UKIP explicitly say they want the freedom to revoke our membership of the European Court of Human Rights. 

What the different party manifestos say, and what they don’t say, is important. Where there are questions, we all now need to contact our candidates to get answers. 

We all need to use the time we have left before the election on 8 June to make sure that every candidate, in every constituency, commits to protecting LGBT rights and removing the barriers that stop many LGBT people living a life free from discrimination.

If we all take a simple action and do this now, our candidates will be left in no doubt about the strength of the LGBT voice, and vote, in Britain. 

Here’s how to do it:

We’ve set out what Stonewall believes are the priorities in our manifesto.

You can see what the parties have said for yourself in their manifestos: Conservatives, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Women’s Equality Party, SNP, UKIP

Now you can use our online tool to find out who your candidates are and send them an email to challenge them to commit to working for LGBT equality in the next five years.

This election is about what sort of society we want to live in.

Make sure your voice is heard by the people who want your vote.

Further information