SNP demands LGBTI equality assurances after Conservatives sign deal with homophobic DUP
After the Conservative Party this week signed a confidence and supply deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, the Scottish National Party has called for assurances on LGBTI equality.
The DUP is known for the anti-LGBT stance of its members, MPs and its official policy.
The party previously supported the introduction of a “conscience clause” to protect those who discriminate against LGBT people, and has also stalled all progress on equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
The Conservative Party manifesto made no mention of LGBT equality beyond broad commitments to equality, but in conversation with PinkNews prior to the election, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to tackle LGBT abuse and make progress on gender recognition legislation.
In the Queen’s Speech made last week before the DUP-Tory deal was confirmed, a commitment was made to protect against discrimination “against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation”.
But no further commitments were made, prompting an open letter from SNP Equalities spokesperson Angela Crawley MP.
“LGBTI people across the country have deep concerns that the Tory backroom deal with the DUP could halt progress on equality,” said Ms Crawley.
“Before the election Theresa May and Ruth Davidson both committed to changes in the law to improve LGBTI equality – but these commitments were entirely absent from the Queen’s Speech, which outlined the UK government’s legislative priorities for the next two years.”
She continued: “We now need firm assurances from the UK government that LGBTI equality will not be sidelined for political expediency – and we need to see a clear timetable for when LGBTI equality legislation will be introduced.
“Will the Tories finally amend same-sex marriage legislation to allow couples from Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, to convert their civil partnerships to marriage? If not, why not?
“Will they extend discrimination protections to all LGBTI people, and eliminate the inequality that same-sex couples continue to face in pension rights?
“Will they follow the lead of the Scottish Government, and commit to introducing world-leading gender recognition reforms for trans and non-binary people within this parliament?”
The MP concluded: “The SNP will continue to champion LGBTI equality in government at Holyrood, and SNP MPs will hold the Tory government to account at Westminster so that LGBTI equality does not fall off the agenda.”
You can read the full text of Angela Crawley’s letter below
You will be aware that many LGBTI people across the country have deep reservations about the Tory deal with the DUP, and are concerned that it may halt, or even reverse, progress on LGBTI equality.
The absence of any LGBTI equality legislation from the UK government’s legislative agenda for the next two years, as laid out in the Queen’s Speech, will compound concerns that LGBTI equality is being sidelined for reasons of political expediency.
Prior to the general election, Tory representatives made commitments that there would be progress on LGBTI equality legislation within this parliament. You personally made commitments that there would be reforms to gender recognition law, and Ruth Davidson signed the Scottish LGBTI Equality pledge supporting wide-ranging reforms to equality law.
Given the lack of clarity on these commitments since the election, I am writing to you to seek clear assurances in a number of areas. Specifically:
· Following the success of legislation in Scotland, will the UK government finally introduce amendments to same-sex marriage law to allow couples from Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, to convert their civil partnerships to marriage? If not, why not?
· When will the UK government introduce legislation to reform gender recognition laws, so that all trans and non-binary people can fully access their human right to legal gender recognition?
· When will the UK government amend the Equality Act 2010 to extend the protected characteristics, so that all LGBTI people are fully protected from discrimination and harassment, including multiple discrimination?
· When will the UK government amend equality law to stop pension companies from discriminating against same-sex spouses by paying them much smaller survivor’s pensions than mixed-sex spouses?
· When will the UK government introduce reforms to allow non-binary people to record their gender as “X” on passports and all other UK-wide records and identity documents?
· Will the UK government improve the Turing Law to ensure that all gay and bisexual men convicted for same-sex sexual activity that is now lawful are automatically pardoned?
· When will the UK government consult on, and make changes to, law and policy to ensure intersex people’s human rights are protected?
· Will the UK government look again at calls for the full devolution of equality law so that the Scottish Parliament can protect and extend LGBTI equality?
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There is still much progress to be made on LGBTI equality in the UK, and around the world, and it is vital that the UK government shows leadership and takes action in this parliament.
Angela Crawley MP
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