Labour "Blows Hot And Cold" On Gay Rights
Ministers still block gay equality.
Hove - 23 September 2006
Speaking at the Green Party annual conference LGBT fringe meeting, at Hove Town Hall, on 23 September 2006, Peter Tatchell, OutRage! activist, human rights campaigner and member of the Green Party said:
"Labour blows hot and cold on lesbian and gay human rights. It has enacted several very positive reforms, such as equalising the age of consent and allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. But these progressive changes are no excuse for the government's current backing of homophobic discrimination in several key policy areas:
"The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights is welcome but flawed. It's effectiveness and fairness will be inhibited by the uneven patch-work of equality laws. Some communities have more protection than others. Race legislation is, for example, much stronger that legislation on gender and sexual orientation. We don't have a level playing field. What is needed is the upward harmonisation of all equality laws, to bring them into line with the gold standard set by race equality legislation. For the CEHR to operate effectively and fairly, we need a comprehensive, all-inclusive Equal Rights Act, to guarantee equal treatment and protection against discrimination to everyone. The CEHR should have separate, semi-autonomous committees, covering each of the six equality strands - a race committee, a sexual orientation committee and so on. This would help ensure that none of the six equality strands is neglected or overshadowed by the others.
"Tony Blair's administration 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. Marriage is the gold standard. Civil partnerships are second best. The Greens are the only party officially committed to giving same-sex partners the right to get married.
"The government is refusing asylum to lesbians and gays who have been jailed, tortured and raped in countries like Iraq, Jamaica, Iran, Algeria, Zimbabwe and Uganda. The Home Office says they won't be at risk of arrest and murder if they hide their sexuality and behave'with discretion'. Labour is ordering the deportation of lesbian and gay refugees, despite the danger that they could be imprisoned or killed.
"Labour, together with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, allows homophobic reggae singers to openly advocate the murder of queers, and it permits record stores and radio stations to promote their CDs inciting homophobic violence. Government ministers would never tolerate similar'murder music' against Jewish or black people. Why aren't we entitled to the same protection?
"The government recently enacted a new law against incitement to religious hatred, but it refuses to pass a law prohibiting incitement to homophobic hatred. More double standards from Labour. If there are going to be laws against incitement to hatred they should prohibit all incitements to hatred, not just some incitements.
"These are a few of the instances where Labour could have overturned homophobia, but instead chose to maintain discrimination. In contrast, the Green Party supports full equality and human rights.
"The government says it is committed to equality, but it often fails to deliver. There is no justification for Labour's failure to remedy these injustices. Protest to your MP, the Equalities Minister and Tony Blair," said Mr Tatchell.
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