EXCLUSIVE: Defence minister thinks LGBT Brits should dive out of Europe
Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Penny Mordaunt, has said she believes leaving the European Union would be better for LGBT Brits.
Speaking to PinkNews at the Out and Proud launch event, the Portsmouth North MP said that a British Bill of Rights would be stronger than the European Convention of Human Rights and Britain would have a louder voice for equality if it goes it alone.
“We’re working on a British Bill of Rights,” she said.
“What the European Human Rights Act [sic: we assume she means the European Convention on Human Rights] does – and our own Human Rights Act – is undermining the primacy of international humanitarian law.
“We’ve got to restore that primacy and we’ve also got to ensure that people’s rights are guaranteed. The European Union doesn’t do that and we only have to look at some of its member states to see it doesn’t do that.
“If we can enshrine this in a Bill of Rights, we free ourselves from some of the unintended consequences of the Convention and the Human Rights Act and we protect those rights.”
Under the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, a requirement of membership was made that said “the Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights” and added they should become “general principles of Community law”.
This means that the UK, as a member state, is required to observe the human rights principles laid down in the Convention. As such, LGBT people are protected in a way that ensures they can’t be subject to discriminatory laws.
Jonathan Cooper, chief executive of Human Dignity Trust, told PinkNews the European Union was essential to continue protection against discrimination for LGBT people.
“Without the European Court of Human Rights gay men would still be criminals in Northern Ireland, we’d have an unequal age of consent in England,” he said.
“Lesbians and gay men would not be able to serve their country in the military. Thanks to the European Court family life and adoption rights have been guaranteed and civil partnerships are recognised as a human right.
“We are protected from hate speech and we are guaranteed equality.
“Thanks to the vision of Europe we can live proudly and openly. Without it our closet would be where we call home.”
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When pushed on how a British Bill of Rights will protect LGBT people in the same way as the ECHR, the minister added it would have the “same guarantees”.
She said: “I would argue they’re stronger because people can vote in the guys who are making the laws. That’s what guarantees rights. It’s democracy.
“The difficulty with Europe is you have a charade of that and the people who are often making the decisions are not elected, they’re not accountable.
“The reason why we’ve made progress in this country is because the electorate has demanded it and fundamentally that is what guarantees freedom and people’s rights.”
Ms Mordaunt also said the EU doesn’t give LGBT equality issues a loud voice and that individual “nation states” need to “have strong voices”.