Theresa May will not dump vital LGBT rights protection, reports indicate
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to shelve plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, reports indicate.
Britain would therefore be part of the ECHR until the next general election, keeping in place a key piece of LGBT rights legislation.
Article 14 of the ECHR, which affords protection from discrimination, has been used in many legal cases to argue for protection for LGBT people, most notably securing an equal age of consent in the UK.
The ECHR was also vital in securing a settlement in the Republic of Ireland in 2014 on gender recognition. It remains influential across Europe on LGBT rights, with Italy also securing civil unions due to an ECHR ruling.
The prime minister is now not expected to include it in the Conservative Party manifesto for the general election in June, making it extremely unlikely that it will happen before 2022, at least.
The ECHR is not a European Union institution, but senior government figures told The Daily Telegraph that pulling out would be a major distraction for May during Brexit negotiations.
Iain Duncan Smith, a Eurosceptic former cabinet minister and party leader, told The Daily Telegraph that the news was “disappointing,” but that he understood May’s thinking.
May set out the case for the UK leaving the ECHR last year while she was Home Secretary, claiming it had done “nothing” for Brits.
She was frustrated by the ECHR, which prevented her from extraditing hate preacher Abu Qatada for a while.
May’s proposal drew fire from other leading Conservatives at the time, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson warning in a PinkNews interview that leaders in Scotland would fight any changes.
And the prime minister has changed her mind on the issue before.
During her Conservative leadership campaign, May appeared to shelve her proposals, admitting: “I recognise that this is an issue that divides people, and the reality is there will be no Parliamentary majority for pulling out of the ECHR, so that is something I’m not going to pursue.”
In addition to endangering LGBT rights, withdrawing from the ECHR would destroy the foundations which the Good Friday Agreement was built on, according to Amnesty International.
Speaking last year, when May was proposing to quit the ECHR, the human rights group’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said the idea was “not just foolish,” but “downright dangerous.
“To undermine an international peace agreement, on which 18 years of peace has been based, is reckless in the extreme.”
Another human rights organisation, Liberty, has made it clear that “for the UK to incorporate any version of the ECHR with diminished or downgraded rights protection…would constitute a failure to incorporate the ECHR as the GFA requires.”
Ahead of the snap general election which Theresa May called for earlier this month, PinkNews readers are encouraged to send in questions for a special Q&A with SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron will also be responding to questions from our readers, so send them in for him to answer.
This is how Britain’s changing relationship with Europe could affect LGBT people: