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Keir Starmer wins Labour Party leadership with overwhelming majority. Here’s where he stands on LGBT+ rights

Reiss Smith April 4, 2020
Keir Starmer: Trans rights should not be 'a political football'

Keir Starmer said framing trans rights as being in conflict with women's rights is "completely wrong". (Getty/Robert Perry)

For Keir Starmer, LGBT+ rights are a crucial part of Labour politics, and of his approach to the party leadership.

The new Labour leader was announced as Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday (April 4), after the MP won 56.2 percent of votes to beat Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy in the party’s leadership election.

The party also announced its new deputy leader will be Angela Rayner, having won 16.2 percent of votes in the third round. The full cabinet will be announced on Sunday.

Starmer said it was “the honour and privilege of my life” to be elected leader of the Labour party, noting that a good government that “saves lives and protects our country” is more important than ever at this time.

Nearly 785,000 party members and affiliated members voted in the election, according to official figures, with Starmer securing even more votes than Jeremy Corbyn did in 2015.

The MP for Holborn and St Pancras emerged as the frontrunner early on after securing the most backing from MPs and local Labour branches.

He remained in the lead throughout the three-month campaign, to the extent that some bookmakers suspended taking bets on him winning because they believed it was such an inevitability.

Much of his campaign was focused on uniting the party after Labour’s devastating general election defeat in December. Starmer said that reconnecting with “left-behind” voters in traditional heartlands must be a priority if Labour is to make a path back to power.

While he was accused of playing it safe for much for the election, in February he released 10 pledges as Labour leader which included the “radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity”.

A former human rights lawyer, Keir Starmer previously served as director of public prosecutions and as the head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

These experience have shaped his attitude towards LGBT+ rights, leaving him a strong ally and advocate for queer people in the UK and around the world.

Keir Starmer on trans rights and Gender Recognition Act reform.

The new Labour leader wrote an essay for PinkNews back in February, explaining how LBGT+ rights would be at the core of his Labour Party.

In it, he underlined his support for reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which he said must be overhauled to better support the trans community.

“Trans rights are human rights,” he wrote. “Though the Gender Recognition Act was an important advance, it is clear that more needs to be done.

We need to reform the GRA to include self-identification and legal recognition of non-binary gender identities.

Starmer said that in order to make the GRA fit for purpose, “we must listen to the concerns of the trans community and their voices must be central in our policy making”.

New Labour leader on transphobia in the media.

Speaking to PinkNews after the LGBT+ Labour leadership hustings, also in February, Starmer stressed the importance of combating transphobia in the media.

“The media’s role in this is really, really important because they’re amplifying some of the hatred,” he said.

“I see the echoes of Section 28. The same arguments, the same examples that were used when we were battling Section 28 are now being used in a different context.

“And just as we battled it then, so we have to battle it now.”

Keir Starmer on tackling hate crimes.

As the former head of the Crown Prosecution Service (from 2008 until 2013), Starmer worked to improve reporting on hate crimes “because we wanted more people to feel safe to report what was happening to them”.

As Labour leader he will go even further by campaigning for hate crimes to become aggravated offences.

“The difference between having something that could increase the sentence and making it an aggravated offence is that the police then have to investigate what the motive was for the attack, and it becomes part of the offensive part of the prosecution,” he explained.

New Labour leader on LGBT-inclusive education.

Although LGBT-inclusive sex and relationships education is to become compulsory from September, there is still debate in some areas of society about the parental right to remove their children from these lessons.

Starmer is resolute on this: “Absolutely no opt-outs.

“To not have full sexual relations education means you’re not putting up an accurate and true reflection of society and relationships before young people,” he added.

“You’re not really educating them at all.”

Keir Starmer on LGBT rights around the world.

In his PinkNews essay Starmer explained that before he held public office, he worked as a human rights lawyer with the Human Dignity Trust, which challenges homophobic laws across the Commonwealth.

The new Labour leader pledged to continue this work in his new post, supporting LGBT+ people across the globe and especially in Commonwealth countries with colonial-era laws which continue to oppress queer communities.

“Labour is a proudly internationalist party, and we need to fight for the rights of LGBT+ people no matter where they happened to be born,” he wrote.

“I would put fighting for human rights at the centre of the Department for International Development.”

Keir Starmer: LGBT voting record.

Having first been elected to parliament in 2015, Starmer was not an MP for many LGBT+ milestones, including the decision to introduce marriage equality to England and Wales in 2013.

When given the opportunity Starmer has supported LGBT+ rights in the House of Commons, voting to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland in July 2019.

The new Labour leader also has a solid track record on voting for human rights. In July 2019 he also voted in favour of abortion rights for Northern Ireland.

He has also previously voted to retain the EU Charter of Human Rights in June 2018 (parliament chose to repeal), and voted against replacing the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights during the 2016 Queen’s Speech vote (this is yet to manifest).

More: 2020 Labour leadership, Angela Rayner, Keir Starmer, Labour

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