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Keir Starmer recalls fighting to repeal anti-gay laws in the Commonwealth at PinkNews Awards

Nick Duffy October 16, 2019
Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer (Paul Grace)

Sir Keir Starmer has spoken about helping fight to repeal anti-gay laws in Commonwealth countries.

Speaking at the PinkNews Awards in Westminster on Wednesday, the shadow Brexit secretary spoke about his work as a barrister and director of public prosecutions before becoming a politician.

Sir Keir Starmer: UK ‘dumped’ anti-gay laws on Commonwealth.

Sir Keir said: “One of the things I was proudest to do was work for the Human Dignity Trust, which challenged laws across the Commonwealth which penalise people for being LGBT+.

“They work in the Commonwealth for a reason, because when the UK colonised countries, it dumped its criminal law on those countries.

“I was working in Jamaica with a young man who was challenging the law that penalised him for being gay. That law came from here, and we dumped it on them.

“The amazing thing in Jamaica is we were unable to see the client, because his life was not safe if he came to the hearing. This was just a few years ago.”

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir also warned that leaving the EU puts human rights protections crucial to LGBT+ people at risk, adding: “It’s shameful that Theresa May’s government singled out the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as the only EU provision we are not prepared to convert into UK law on departure, just when we need it most.”

Recalling the legal battle to secure the right for gay people to serve in the military, he said: “What people don’t remember is when that was challenged in our courts, it lost. It’s only when it went to the European Court of Human Rights that that ban was overturned.

“No one can persuade me that they stand up for these communities, but at the same time say, we don’t need human rights protections, we don’t need the European Convention on Human Rights or the Human Rights Act.”

Welsh Assembly and Northumbria Police win Public Sector Equality Award.

Sir Keir presented the Public Sector Equality Award jointly to Northumbria Police and the Welsh Assembly.

A representative of the Welsh Assembly said: “On behalf of the National Assembly for Wales, I want to thank PinkNews for this award. Everyone is seen and everyone is represented because everyone matters. ”

A representative of Northumbria Police said: “It is an absolute honour to be represented here amongst a crowd of other public sector organisations that have been nominated. We do our best to make every person who comes to work to be their true selves, and it’s the only way we can protect the public.”

The nominees for the Public Sector Award were:

  • Royal Navy and Royal Marines
  • Leeds City Council
  • West Yorkshire Police
  • Northumbria Police
  • Swansea University
  • The Welsh Government
  • Cardiff University
  • The University of Brighton
  • De Montfort University

This is the seventh annual PinkNews Awards, sponsored by Amazon, and taking place at Church House, headquarters of the Church of England.

More: brexit, Labour, Sir Keir Starmer

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