This summer, individuals and organisations will be writing to their MPs calling for action on for Gender Recognition Act reform. Add your voice – email your MP today.
David chairs the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum which has built support for LGBT equality at local and national levels by building relationships with local MPs. Here, he shares their experience to help you make an impact on your local MP.
1. Don’t be party political.
Here in Wandsworth, we have three MPs of different parties and have been able to build good relationships all of them, as well as with election candidates.
2. Find common ground.
Look for events that your MP is organising or supporting that relate to your work, and where you can find common interest. Hate crime is a focus for us, and so we have attended and supported events where our local MPs have spoken about tackling hate crime. This has helped build the relationship with them.
3. Be personal.
On behalf of the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum, I wrote to our local MPs earlier this year asking for them to champion LGBT-inclusive Relationships and Sex Education. I used a template letter but personalised it – reminding MPs of the previous contact we’d had with them, sharing personal experiences of growing up under Section 28 and including some facts and statistics. We could then share this letter with other organisations and individuals to help them write their own personal letters.
4. It’s more than just sending an email or writing a letter.
It’s about building a relationship over time. We’ve been in contact with one of our local MPs for ten years about different issues around LGBT equality. Over my time as Chair, all of our local MPs have come to many events which we have run in the borough. Most recently, our weekly 50+ LGBT coffee morning and even joined in photo-calls at fundraising events.
5. If you don’t get an answer, don’t stop, but don’t pester either.
Social media can be great, but it’s not always the best way to get an MP to respond. Whatever you do, don’t make personal attacks or insult your MP on social media. Arranging a meeting, inviting them to one of your events or picking up the phone, can be more productive. MPs get so many emails every day, instead of just asking for something, ask them what their priorities are and how you can help.
6. Support each other.
We’re part of the London LGBT+ Forums network, which exists to share information and offer support for other London-wide community forums. Among the organisations you work with, there may be ones who can provide advice on dealing with a ‘difficult’ local MP or have contacts which they can share with you.
7. Remember, MPs are people too.
Every MP is different. Some will read their own mail, others will have office staff. They will have different interests and communication styles, so take time to discover what works for them.
Are you part of an LGBT network or community organisation? Download our guide to help you contact your MP about trans rights and Gender Recognition Act reform.