Gina Miller claims the government’s Brexit approach could be disastrous for LGBT+ people

Gina Miller October 1, 2019
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Gina Miller, the woman boldly leading the battle against Brexit. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty)

Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller is known as the woman who took on the UK government and won – twice.

Over the past three years she’s taken the Brexit battle to both the High Court and the Supreme Court, successfully challenging the government’s right to trigger Article 50 and prorogue parliament.

Leading these landmark cases has made Gina Miller one of the most influential black people in the UK; but it has also put her at enormous personal risk as she now faces racist and sexist verbal abuse and death threats.

In an exclusive for PinkNews, Gina Miller claims the government’s approach to Brexit could be disastrous for LGBT+ people.

(Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty)

Gina Miller:

Homosexual acts were a criminal offence until The Sexual Offences Act 1967. Before then, it was legal and commonplace for homosexuals to be harassed by the police, and, when caught committing what was then considered to be an offence, the shame of appearing in court all too often led to suicide.

Workplace bullying of anyone even suspected of being homosexual was normal, and in this cultural and workplace environment, it was a brave individual who sought to challenge it.

It is an extraordinary thing that the criminalisation of homosexual acts in English law had begun during the time of Henry VIII. It took 434 years before consensual sex between men, both over the age of 21, was deemed to be legally permissible.

Our laws and our attitudes are inextricably bound together. Our laws are who we are and they live and breathe and evolve over the years as we do.

I mention this because it shows how our laws and our attitudes are inextricably bound together. Our laws are who we are and they live and breathe and evolve over the years as we do.

What I fear now is that there is a systematic attempt to turn our system against itself, to not just throw away all the learning and experience that brought it into being, but, as Sajid Javid said at the Tory Party Conference this week, to start afresh.

He stated that leaving the EU will give the UK the opportunity to get rid of “inefficient EU programmes” and replace them with “genuinely better homegrown alternatives”. In other words, LGBT+ rights and protections, equality rights we take for granted, founded on principles contained in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and/or have come about as a consequence of the Charter or other EU law, may well be discarded post Brexit.

Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court after judges ruled that Boris Johnson’s five-week prorogation of Parliament was unlawful. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Getty)

In both my legal cases against the government and prime minister of the day – first Mrs May and then Mr Johnson – I was acutely conscious of the fact that if nothing was done, precedents would be set that would open the door to any fundamental hard-won rights could quietly be discarded or diminished without parliamentary scrutiny.

Ours is arguably the most successful representative parliamentary democracy in the world and my cases were about protecting the voices of our elected representatives in parliament.

Mr Johnson may have used the horrifically homophobic phrase “tank-topped bum boys” in an article that he wrote, but he professes not to be homophobic himself.

If we take his word on that, there would have been nothing to have stopped one of his successors reinstating, say, Section 28. Certainly parliament would be opposed to that, but all this future PM would have to have done – had I not won my most recent case – would have been to prorogue parliament to get it through.

Boris Johnson applauds Sajid Javid’s keynote speech at the annual Conservative Party conference on September 30, 2019 (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty)

Insidiously, Johnson’s reaction to the Supreme Court ruling is attempting to pit the people against the independent judiciary, and already he is framing the forthcoming general election as the people versus parliament.

Talk of this kind chips away at the the pillars that uphold our society – that enable our society to function – and with it the respect that we need to have for each other.

This is of course the old tactic of divide and rule, but it is profoundly dangerous. Just as our laws are fundamental to social stability, so, too, is our representative democracy. The people versus parliament is quite simply an attempt to set the people against the people and to turn our whole system against itself.

Talk of this kind chips away at the the pillars that uphold our society – that enable our society to function – and with it the respect that we need to have for each other.

What began as a debate about how we leave the European Union has turned into something that is quite different and imperils freedoms and tolerant way of life. It may well be that this was always the real agenda: a top-down authoritarian regime that sows intolerance, narrow patriotism and “othering” – talking all the time about “them” and “us” – and it is a very dangerous road for the United Kingdom to be venturing down.

It is no coincidence that in this environment – where tolerance for opposing views is in increasingly short supply – that hate crime offences are rising rapidly.

Two women on a bus covered in blood
June 2019: A same-sex couple who were beaten on a London bus for refusing to kiss is just one of the many examples of rising hate crimes in the UK (Facebook)

The figures for 2017/18 show there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17 percent compared with the previous year.

After race hate crimes – 76 percent of the total – came what were called “sexual orientation hate crimes” – some 11,638 or 12 percent of the total. A further 1,651 – 2 percent were classed as transgender hate crimes.

LGBT+ people are not of course alone in feeling uncomfortable at the moment. Ethnic minorities, disabled groups, religious groups – nearly all minority groups, in fact – are finding themselves concerned of the toxicity building in our society.

A new kind of country is being formed around us where it is not going to be easy to be different. One is reminded of the words of Martin Niemöller, the prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany, who said in the days ahead of the Second World War:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We have increasingly seeing various groups in our society attacked, verbally but all too often physically, over the last three years. This cannot and must not become normalised. As a society, we stand or fall together.

The opinions within this article do not necessarily reflect the views and values of PinkNews.

More: article 50, Boris Johnson, brexit, gina miller, hate crimes, prorogation

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