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Tory government’s ‘bonkers attack’ on Human Rights Act will put hard-won LGBT+ rights at risk, charity warns

Lily Wakefield December 8, 2020
Tory review of Human Rights Act puts LGBT rights at risk, warns Amnesty

Boris Johnson leaves number 10 Downing Street as he heads to the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Foreign Office on November 10, 2020 in London, England. (Leon Neal/Getty)

A government review into the UK’s Human Rights Act is “a gift to tyrants” and will put LGBT+ rights at risk, Amnesty has warned.

The Human Rights Act was brought in by the Labour government in 1998, and incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), introduced after the Second World War, into UK law.

Membership of the ECHR is separate from the UK’s membership of the European Union, but following Brexit, many conservative politicians have supported leaving the convention too, as it is controlled by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Human Rights Act has secured many wins for LGBT+ rights in the UK, from gay people being able to serve in the military to introducing legal recognition of trans people.

According to Stonewall: “The act protects ALL OF US.  Many of us are fortunate enough to have never had to worry about our rights being abused.

“But for LGBT+ people who’ve wanted to start a family, to be recognised as who they are, to serve in the military or to access housing, the act helped protect them.”

But on Monday (7 December), it was announced that former court of appeal judge Sir Peter Gross would lead a review into the act, and how it is interpreted by UK courts.

Human rights charity Amnesty International has warned that the decision could put LGBT+ rights at risk.

Citing many landmark cases that have involved the Human Rights Act, including tenancy rights for same-sex couples, Amnesty UK director Kate Allen said: “Tearing up the Human Rights Act would be a giant leap backwards.

“It would be the single biggest reduction in rights in the history of the UK.

“From Hillsborough, to Grenfell to the appalling mishandling of the recent COVID crisis in care homes, we have never so badly needed a means to hold the government to account and we know that the Human Rights Act does that extremely effectively.

“It took ordinary people a very long time to win these rights and we mustn’t let politicians take them away with the stroke of a pen.

“This looks worryingly like the latest power-grabbing move from a government that doesn’t like limits on its powers or judges who tell them when they break the law.

“What the government is proposing is also a gift to tyrants the world over. How can the UK call on other countries to respect human rights protections and legal responsibilities if they are busy ripping up the rule book at home?”

According to The Guardian, Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy also said of the review: “It is bonkers that the government is prioritising launching an attack on human rights in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unlike the Conservatives, Labour is proud of this country’s leading role in developing human rights following the second world war.

“There is no need for a review into the rights and freedoms that underpin our democracy and all of us enjoy.”

More: Amnesty, brexit, David Lammy, european convention on human rights, Human Rights Act, LGBT rights, Sir Peter Goss

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