Lord Cashman: We must look to France, and never fail to stand up for human rights
Labour’s Lord Cashman has spoken about the impact of the attacks in France in a keynote address at the LGBT Leaders conference.
Held for a second year at the Clifford Chance offices in Canary Wharf, LGBT Leaders is a conference for LGBTQ students interested in business and politics.
Speakers at the event included a number of MPs and activists, as well as business executives from Microsoft, Ogilvy, Sky and RBS, who spoke across a number of panels. PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen also spoke at the event.
In his keynote address to the conference on Saturday, Stonewall co-founder and Labour peer Lord Cashman addressed the recent atrocities in Paris.
He said: “The litmus test of any civilised society is not how it treats its majority, but how it treats its separate minorities that make up that majority.
“When you look at another and say, ‘what if that were me? And if that were me, and I wouldn’t want it to happen to me… how dare I allow that to happen to another?’
“That is why what is happening in France, and is happening across the world, where people use the excuse of religion or belief, or identity, to achieve power – that is when we have to say you cannot do that to them, because ultimately, you will do that to me.
He continued: “We’re in a very difficult position as LGBT people, because often we have to come across people who have firm religious beliefs, and firm convictions, that who we are is wrong and alien to them.
“We have to defend that religious belief, and we have to defend that person’s right to that belief. But not the right to impose it. Not the right to impose it on another, and by imposing it reduce their human rights.
“Stand up for that person in the crowd who the crowd would turn upon. It takes courage, and if we do not, then ultimately the crowd will turn on another, and another.”
Defending human rights laws, Mr Cashman praised the universality of human rights, and expressed concern over plans for a ‘British Bill of Rights’.
He explained: “When you leave Britain, British rights remain in Britain. I want the universality of my rights… I want to export my rights.”
The former Member of the European Parliament also concluded: “Now is not the time to pull out of Europe, or to argue about restricting this or restricting that. Now is the time to look to France, and say ‘what if that were us? what if that were me?’
“The European Union was born out of the ashes of the Second World War, literally. The ashes of people’s hopes, people’s dreams. The ashes from crematoriums across Europe.
“And out of that came a determination that we would never turn away whilst an indivdual was scapegoated, discriminated against, worked to death or gassed. Never again.”
PinkNews is a media partner of LGBT Leaders.