Sajid Javid has vowed to rid the country of anti-LGBT+ abuse “once and for all.”
The Home Secretary, who was appointed in April following Amber Rudd’s resignation, told the PinkNews Awards audience that “no-one, whether gay, straight lesbian, transgender or bisexual should have to live in fear.
The Gender Recognition Act reform is a "historic moment," says @sajidjavid.
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Referring to the national LGBT survey undertaken by the government this year, which found that two-thirds of gay couples were afraid to hold hands in public, he added: “Everyone should have the confidence to be able to report hate crimes and know that it will be taken seriously.
“And in modern Britain, we should all be free to express ourselves in the way we want without hesitation. So we are acting on this, and we want to phase out this abuse once and for all.
“Earlier this year, the government set out its LGBT action plan and supported £4.5 million in new funding, and yesterday I published a refreshed hate crime action plan.”
He promised that this plan would “improve the response to victims by improving police spending and examining services” and provide “more funding to combat homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying in our schools and a review of hate crime legislation by the law commission to see what further changes we need to make in our laws.
“We need to do more.”
Javid, who first entered Parliament in 2010, finished his speech by urging attendees to “call out hate wherever we see it, encourage those affected to report every incident and work together to build that inclusive society we all crave.”
Javid then handed out the Campaigner of the Year award to all the activists who made the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India possible.
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable was expected to criticise Javid’s department at the event, calling the application process for LGBT+ asylum seekers “humiliating” and “Dickensian.
“They are forced to answer explicit questions about sexual activities and screenshots of their conversations on dating sites. Such humiliation would never be expected – or tolerated – if it was dished out to straight people.
“We know that decision-making in the Home Office is extremely poor, with over a third of all asylum applications that are refused overturned on appeal.
“We must eradicate the Home Office’s culture of disbelief. That means officials must never be allowed to state that an applicant is not LGBT+ so as to justify refusal.”
In July, the Home Secretary spoke at the PinkNews Summer Reception in Westminster, where he vowed to tackle anti-LGBT+ hate crime.
He also condemned anti-LGBT+ violence around the world, warning attendees that “we must not get complacent,” and apologised for historic anti-LGBT+ persecution — just minutes after Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott had called on him to do so.
He said: “It’s shocking to remember that back in the 1950s, the then Home Secretary vowed to eradicate homosexuality.
“Undercover police were instructed to loiter in bars, entrap gay men and put them in jail.
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“Let me tell you, as the current Home Secretary, that was wrong, wrong, wrong, and I’m sorry that it ever happened.”
Javid also gave a speech at the PinkNews Awards in 2015 when he was Business Secretary, saying he was “very proud” of the government’s introduction of equal marriage.
“I’m no stranger to inequality. I grew up as a young lad being verbally abused and physically abused because of my colour or people didn’t like a certain religion,” he said at the event.
“So it’s no surprise I’ve always been a strong advocate for equality.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable were also present at the event at central London’s Church House, along with Celebrity Big Brother winner Shane Jenek, singer and PinkNews Award nominee Will Young and BBC broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, among other stars.
Attendees saw awards handed out to the best campaigner, third sector organisation and politician of the year, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award.