Chris Bryant: I’m ‘Out for In’ because the EU safeguards basic rights for LGBT people
Labour’s Shadow Commons Leader Chris Bryant writes for PinkNews – after thirty LGB Parliamentarians signed a joint letter calling for the UK to remain in the European Union.
I suspect that the vast majority of LGBTQ people in Britain will vote just like anyone else in the EU Referendum.
They will look at the economic arguments and ask how on earth anyone can expect the UK to prosper if we turn our back on the world’s largest market (which just happens to be on our very own doorstep).
They will think about our security as a nation and wonder how we could hope to tackle international terrorism and crime without daily cooperation with the law enforcement agencies across the EU.
They will ask how we could even dream of tackling climate change or environmental degradation without setting and enforcing European emissions targets through the EU.
They’ll value the fact that if you buy a kettle, a face pack or a children’s toy anywhere in the EU, you know that it will be safe because of EU standards.
They’ll enjoy the cheaper, easier travel (and the guarantee of free healthcare thanks to the E111 card) that our membership of the EU brings.
They’ll relish the opportunity to work, study or live anywhere across the EU (as more than 2 million UK nationals already do).
They’ll reckon that Europe-wide rights at work protect us all from the ravages of international corporate greed.
They’ll see Europe tackle global conglomerates like Google, Apple, Starbucks and Murdoch in a way that no individual nation state can.
And they’ll conclude that we achieve far more by our common endeavour than we do by going it alone. Far better to lead the EU than leave it.
Far better to reform it from within than stand on the sidelines.
The very fact that LGBTQ people will vote no differently from anyone else is in itself a tribute to the fact that we have travelled so far politically in the last fifteen years here and across the EU.
It’s as if we take for granted our right to be treated equally under the law – an equal age of consent, equal marriage and no discrimination in employment or provision of services.
But we should be careful. Progress can all too easily go in to reverse gear.
The most liberal place in Europe in the 20th century for gay men was Berlin in the early 1930s – and we all know what happened by the end of that decade.
So we should be very careful about taking our hard-earned recent rights for granted.
We should remember that in many cases it was the European Court of Human Rights that pushed both the UK and other EU countries towards equal treatment for all and that it was the prospect of EU membership that turned many countries from harsh dictatorial regimes to liberal democracies where the rights of the individual are respected.
Spain, Portugal, Greece and much of Eastern Europe was under the boot of dictatorship in my lifetime.
Thanks to the EU, none will return to those ways.
So there are two additional reasons I hope LGBTQ people will vote to remain.
First, we should stand in solidarity with others across the EU, especially in those countries where discrimination is still a reality.
Along with other countries, the UK can be a beacon for the rule of law and sexual equality – we should celebrate that in solidarity, not seek to fracture the progress Europe has made.
And secondly, we should rejoice in the fact that wherever we are in the EU we can be assured that our rights will be respected and protected as consumers, as citizens, as workers and as private individuals.
That means the recognition of our civil partnership or same-sex marriage across the EU.
It means being able to face down discrimination in employment across the EU. And it means enhancing and protecting our right to live our lives in freedom here at home.
That’s why, with other LGBTQ MPs and peers last week, I signed a letter calling on the UK to vote to Remain. We’re Out for IN. I hope you will be too.
Chris Bryant is the MP for Rhondda and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.
PinkNews will be featuring arguments from both sides in the run-up to the EU referendum.