Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: In London, transgender people should be free to be who they are
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has rolled out an action plan to protect the city’s LGBT venues.
The Mayor today published his draft London Plan, which contains a raft of measures intended to make the capital more inclusive and welcoming for its LGBT+ citizens.
The plan outlines measures to protect LGBT venues in the capital.
Earlier this year, alarming figures were released showing how the number of LGBT+ venues have fallen by 58 per cent in the past decade. In 2006, there were 125 venues in operation, while in 2017 there are just 53 – a fall of 58 per cent.
One of the hardest-hit boroughs is Islington, which has lost 80 per cent of its LGBT+ venues since 2006. During the same period, Lambeth lost 47 per cent of its LGBT+ venues, with Camden and Westminster both losing 43 per cent.
Some of the city’s most iconic LGBT venues, such as the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, have staved off threats of redevelopment over the past few years, while others have battled with licensing rules and rent hikes.
The “Agent of Change principle” outlined in the plan insulates venues from complaints connected with development, by stipulaitng that developers building new residential properties near LGBT+ venues “will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound”.
This means that the cost will fall on property developers, rather than on the pubs and clubs.
The Mayor also called on local authorities across the capital to “recognise the importance of LGBT+ venues to local communities” and urged them to “protect the character of areas with a high proportion of LGBT+ venues or clientele”.
Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Night Czar Amy Lamé has published the Mayor’s LGBT+ Venues Charter, to help safeguard venues for the LGBT+ community.
The charter is “a practical tool that organisations can sign up to if they want to open a new LGBT+ venue or reopen one that has closed, to affirm their commitment to the LGBT+ community in London”.
Marmalade Pub Company, a partnership between Marylebone Leisure Group and Ei Managed Investments – which operates Comptons Cross (formerly Molly Moggs) in Soho – is the first signatory to the charter.
The Mayor has also committed to “undertake an annual audit of LGBT+ venues, so that the number of LGBT+ venues in the capital can be tracked more closely, and efforts can be made to stem the flow of closures in the city”.
Elsewhere he backed the roll-out of gender-neutral toilets across the capital, to help trans and non-binary people feel more comfortable.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Here in London, you’re free to love whoever you want to love and be whoever you want to be.
“It’s so important to me that London is a city where LGBT+ people feel valued, happy and safe – and so it’s vital that future plans for London’s development as a city have community at their heart.
“That’s why I’ve outlined important measures today that will help to protect LGBT+ venues in the city, as well as encourage increased provision of gender-neutral toilets.
“These plans will help to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the capital, and send a clear message that London is a global beacon of diversity.”
He said of the toilets: “I have vowed to be a Mayor for all Londoners so I am determined to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy our great city to its fullest.
“Toilets are a vital public service and can help to shape the experience of the capital for those who live here and for those visiting.
“We need a range of toilets that reflect the incredible diversity of this city – giving people the confidence to move around London with dignity.”
Chief Executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt, said: “We’re pleased the Mayor has used the London Plan to call on councils to create more gender neutral toilets, and so help meet the needs of all Londoners and the city’s many visitors.
“Gender-neutral toilets are a practical solution for many people, for many reasons and it’s a powerful demonstration of acceptance that has benefits for everyone.
“But this move isn’t just practical, it’s symbolic. By introducing gender-neutral toilets, planners can show that London is a city that cherishes its diverse population.”
The move has been praised by LGBT allies.
However, the London Evening Standard decided to speak to Andrea Williams of anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern.
Ms Williams, who also lobbies against LGBT discrimination protections and equal marriage, claimed providing trans-friendly toilets is dangerous.
She said: “This is the latest casualty of an ideological tsunami that sweeps common sense and biological reality aside.”
However even UKIP Assembly Member David Kurten, who has made homophobic comments in the past, said that having unisex toilets available was “common sense”.
Canada’s High Commission in London recently installed a gender-neutral toilet.
Staff at the High Commission revealed earlier this year that an “all-gender toilet” has been installed in the historic building, to provide a trans-inclusive environment.
A spokesperson explained to PinkNews that the toilet was suggested by an adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while on a visit to London.
The idea came to fruition when Canadian MP Randy Boissonnault, who advises Mr Trudeau on LGBT issues, was in London to meet with LGBT activists.
The spokesperson added: “As Canada engages with transgender activists on a regular basis, it made infinite sense for us to be able to offer suitable toilet facilities here at Canada House in order to ensure that all visitors to our building are welcomed and feel comfortable.
“A facility on our ground floor, accessible to both visitors and staff, is our new gender-neutral bathroom.”
Gender-neutral toilets were recently introduced in the cinema at the Barbican Centre, a Grade II listed building that is world-famous for its Brutalist architecture.
Though gendered toilets remain available elsewhere in the complex, the Barbican’s decision attracted fury after false claims that all female toilets had been removed from the complex to make way for gender neutral ones.
On that occasion Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn labeled gender neutral toilets “trans tyranny”.
The right-wing commentator attacked the increasing number of de-gendered bathrooms “aimed at erasing our traditional values”.
He wrote: “This is just the tip of the ‘trans’ tyranny, which has been driven by a vindictive, gobby minority within a minority — egged on by the usual Left-wing rabble and predictable procession of pro-celebrity virtue signallers.”
He claims the trans-friendly facilities have been created by left-wing activists as a way to change the country without winning votes.
“Of course, this isn’t really about trans ‘rights’, it’s part of the remorseless revolution aimed at erasing our traditional values and demonising small ‘c’ conservatives.
“That’s why it’s been seized upon by the hard Left, who realise they have no prospect of changing Britain at the ballot box.”
He went on to write: “OK, so domestic bathrooms are desegregated. But there’s a world of difference between sharing a loo with your loved ones and being forced to follow a man in a frock into Trap Three.”
BBC journalist Samira Ahmed also criticised the Barbican’s gender neutral toilets, saying they were “imposing” their politics.
Mr Khan, the first Muslim to hold the office of Mayor, led the city’s Pride parade last year.
The Mayor also got into a high profile spat with US President Donald Trump.
President Trump previously called Mr Khan “ignorant” and “rude” for questioning his immigration policies.
Khan hit back saying Trump is playing into the hands of ISIS with his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
At a recent rally he said he would not allow Trump to “silence” him.
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He previously flew the LGBT Pride flag from City Hall to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As Mayor of a city with one of the world’s largest LGBT+ communities, I’m could not be more proud to raise the Pride flag to mark IDAHOT 2017 at City Hall.
“London is a city that doesn’t just tolerate diversity, but truly embraces and celebrates it. I want London to be a place where LGBT+ people feel valued, happy and safe.”
He added: “On the 50th year of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, it is particularly important to remember those who have been the victims of hate crime.
“From day one of Mayoralty, I’ve made it clear that homophobic, transphobic and biphobic abuse has no place in our city and I will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police and anti-hate organisations to stamp out hate crime in all forms.”