A group has formed to make an “LGBT case” for the UK leaving the European Union.
A referendum is set to be held on June 23 on whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave.
LGBT campaigners have pointed to the large number of rights victories across Europe that have come about because of EU pressure and collaboration.
A recent poll of 2600 PinkNews readers found that 62 percent support remaining in the EU – but one group is making a passionate case to leave.
The ‘Out and Proud’ group – which says it is not affiliated with any political party – aims “to bring together members of the LGBT community who think that the UK would be better off outside of the European Union”.
The group claims: “The legalisation of homosexuality, an equal age of consent, civil partnerships, same-sex marriage, the right to adopt, equal access to IVF and the right to change your legal gender.
“All these battles were won in our parliaments, decided by our elected representatives, and built on many centuries championing the rights of minority groups.
“Never let it be said that these rights were handed to us by the European Union, many of whose members still deny equality and decency to LGBT people. These were our victories – and we should be proud.”
It continues: “We have a duty to protect and promote those rights around the world.
“The European Union has failed in that task – whether in improving attitudes to LGBT people in Eastern Europe, or fighting for equality in the rest of the world.
“The European Union is too insular, too bureaucratic and too indifferent to injustice. A more internationalist, globally-engaged UK will be an even more effective champion of LGBT rights around the world.
“As we will be able to sign our own free trade deals, we will be better placed to put pressure on countries to improve LGBT rights, especially within the Commonwealth.”
The group’s founder Adam Lake told PinkNews: “One of the main purposes of the group is to dispel the myth that LGBT rights in the UK derive from EU membership.
“Out of 28 EU members six still do not formally recognise gay relationships in any form, sixteen have opted not to legalise gay marriage and seven feel so strongly that the concept of gay marriage is abhorrent that they have a constitutional ban on it ever coming into place.
“Conversely the decriminalisation of same sex acts, equal age of consent, equal partnerships and marriages, LGBT adoption and equal access to IVF and the right to change gender have all come into place because of laws created and passed by the UK parliament.”
Despite Mr Lake’s assertions, the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland and the equalisation of the age of consent came about after judgements against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights. As part of the judgement then UK government then tabled legislation in Parliament to change the law.
The group is asking people to create ‘Coming Out’ videos with the hashtag #EUComingOut to encourage people to open up about Brexit.
Mr Lake added: “It’s really important that LGBT people who support the leave campaign can do so without having to share a platform those who perhaps do not have the same commitment to LGBT equality as we do.
“This is about providing an opportunity for LGBT people to debate the issues in a positive and inclusive way so that everyone can make an informed choice on 23rd June.”
However, it remains to be seen whether the group will succeed in winning any support.
A number of the images on the group’s website appear to be stock images, rather than featuring actual supporters.
Disclaimer: Adam Lake worked as a PinkNews reporter between 2008 and 2010, but has not done so for a number of years.
PinkNews will be staying politically impartial, and not taking an editorial stance on the issue.