Labour Is Blocking Gay Equality
Government backs homophobic discrimination in nine key policy areas.
London UK - 8 December 2004
"The government is endorsing homophobic discrimination in nine key policy areas," said gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
"Securing same-sex partnership laws was a big advance, but there are several major issues where inequality remains.
Mr Tatchell was speaking at the Stonewall Debate at the Law Society in London on Wednesday, 8 December 2004:
"Labour has enacted some positive reforms for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBTs), such as equalising the age of consent and ending the ban on gays in the military. But these progressive changes are no justification for the government's failures on other key issues of queer human rights.
"The following are nine examples of how Labour is currently backing homophobic discrimination:
1. Labour says it is acceptable for charities to discriminate against LGBTs (and against Muslims and people with HIV). It is refusing to amend the draft Charities Bill to make equal opportunities a condition of charitable status.
2. Labour is creating a new Commission for Equality & Human Rights. It will place a legal duty on public bodies to combat discrimination based on race, gender and disability - but not discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a result, local councils and other public bodies will remain free to do nothing to tackle homophobic prejudice, harassment and violence.
3. Labour backs the ban on same-sex marriage. It supports a system of sexual apartheid, whereby gays are banned from marriage (homophobia) and straights are banned from civil partnerships (heterophobia). This two-tiered system of partnership law is not equality. It perpetuates and extends discrimination.
4. Labour is refusing asylum to LGBTs who have been jailed, tortured and raped in countries like Jamaica, Iran, Algeria and Zimbabwe. The Home Office says they won't be at risk of arrest and murder if they are sent back home and behave "with discretion".
5. Labour allows homophobic reggae singers to openly advocate the murder of LGBTs, and it permits record stores and radio stations to promote CDs inciting homophobic violence.
6. Labour has exempted religious bodies from the new laws against homophobic discrimination in the workplace. This means religious-run institutions - such as schools, hospitals, care homes and hospices - are free to discriminate against LGBT employees.
7. Labour has failed to ensure that sex education and Aids advice lessons address the specific needs of young lesbians and gays. This failure is particularly serious when it comes to safer-sex information for teenagers in same-sex relationships. It is putting their welfare and lives at risk.
8. Labour is enacting a new law against incitement to religious hatred, but it refuses to pass a law prohibiting incitement to homophobic hatred. Double standards, yet again.
9. Labour has rejected calls for laws against homophobic discrimination in the provision of goods and services, such as housing and insurance, and in hotels, bars, restaurants and other leisure facilities. This means that such discrimination remains lawful by default.
"These are nine specific instances where Labour had an opportunity to overturn homophobia, but chose to maintain discrimination. Labour talks about equality, but often fails to deliver. There is no justification for the government's failure to remedy these injustices. Protest to your MP," said Mr Tatchell.
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