Lib Dems would force companies to publish data on LGBT employees
The Liberal Democrats have released their election manifesto, and it makes a number of pledges on LGBT rights.
The pro-European party released the document today, just over three weeks before the UK’s General Election.
Under party leader Tim Farron, the document makes a number of ambitious pledges on LGBT rights.
One of the biggest LGBT-related proposals in the document is a change to equality law that would force companies to publish diversity monitoring data on employees.
Under the proposed reforms, all companies with more than 250 employees would be required “to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps”.
This would require employers to actively monitor how many employees identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, as well as black and minority ethnic.
It is not the only area of equality law that the Lib Dems have pledged to overhaul.
The party says it would protect people from discrimination based on gender identity and expression.
It would also overhaul the 2004 Gender Recognition Act “to allow individuals to change their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles”, drastically streamlining the process by which transgender people change their gender.
The Lib Dems would also legally recognise people who “do not wish to identify as either male or female”.
The party has also pledged to “remove the spousal veto” – a contentious provision of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act that requires married transgender people to get ‘permission’ from their husband or wife in order to change their legal gender.
Trans activists contend that the provision can be used by abusive partners to indefinitely block their spouse’s gender recognition.
Tim Farron’s party, which faced criticism in the previous Parliament for its disproportionately straight white and male MPs, also suggested a change in the law that would enable the use of “all-BAME and all-LGBT+ parliamentary shortlists”.
There are already provisions to permit all-female shortlists.
The party says it will also make changes to “abolish remaining marriage inequalities in areas such as pensions”. Under current legal loopholes, some married gay couples are short-changed thousands of pounds by pension law.
The Liberal Democrats also include plans to bolster LGBT inclusion in schools, pledging an assault on “bullying on the basis of gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression.”
This includes ensuring that “age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) [includes] teaching about sexual consent, LGBT+ relationships, and issues surrounding explicit images and content”.
Globally, the party says it will “develop a comprehensive strategy for promoting the decriminalisation of homosexuality around the world and advancing the cause of LGBT+ rights”.
The party says it will also “offer asylum to people fleeing countries where their sexual orientation or gender identification means that they risk imprisonment, torture or execution, and stop deporting people at risk to such countries”.
As PinkNews reported last week, the manifesto also backs HIV-preventing drugs on the NHS.
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The party, led by Tim Farron, has backed the use of PrEP for people in “high-risk groups”, defined by the World Health Organisation as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people in serodiscordant relationships.
It would also ask the Advisory Committee on Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs periodically to review rules around men who have sex with men and other
related groups donating blood to consider what restrictions remain necessary”.
The Lib Dems said: “Whether by righting past wrongs, protecting citizens or increasing freedom, the Liberal Democrats believe that legislation defending rights and liberties protects individuals and drives opportunity for many underrepresented groups.
“Liberal Democrats oppose all discrimination and believe that government should take an active role both in punishing discrimination and in ensuring it does not
happen in the first place. Our society is only strong once it includes everybody – regardless of their background.”