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Brexit will be a disaster for LGBTI people – we demand a People’s Vote

Brexit will be a disaster for LGBTI people – we demand a People’s Vote

Gay Star News co-founders Scott Nunn and Tris Reid-Smith marching for a People's Vote.

Brexit is dangerous for the LGBTI community – and so Gay Star News is today announcing our support for a People’s Vote.

Brexit would do more than just harm LGBTI rights of course. If we actually leave the EU – ‘Chequers’ deal, bad deal or no deal – people will lose their jobs, the NHS will suffer and we may face shortages of everything from HIV medication to food.

Nobody in the UK voted for this mess. Nobody voted for Chequers. No LGBTI person voted to allow the government to remove important protections on our rights.

But we can avert disaster. A People’s Vote provides a democratic way for UK citizens to say what they want the final outcome to be – including remaining in the EU.

LGBTI people are against Brexit

We have long believed that the majority of UK LGBTI voters chose ‘remain’ in the EU referendum of June 2016. Independent polling now confirms this.

Usually, after a vote, people rally behind the decision and get on with their lives. With Brexit, the opposite has happened. More British people now support remain than leave and Brexit has become less and less popular with the public as the reality of it has become clearer.

The same is true of the LGBTI population. A clear majority now support a People’s Vote and an even greater majority would choose remain if they had a chance.

Our community appears to be even more worried than the rest of the country about the hammerblow Brexit will deal to jobs and the economy.

But it gets even scarier than that.

How Brexit hurts LGBTI people

LGBTI choirs sing for our rights outside the Brexit debate.
LGBTI choirs sing for our rights outside the Brexit debate.

The loudest Brexiteers have the worst voting records on LGBTI issues. The referendum has handed political power to homophobes, biphobes and transphobes. I am scared what they will do next if they triumph in pushing us to a hard Brexit.

Meanwhile, our need for distant future trade deals is forcing us to make some disturbing friendships. We have all witnessed our government cozying up to foreign powers who are sexist, homophobic, transphobic and violators of human rights generally.

Very few people have examined what Brexit will mean to LGBTI people specifically.

This Spring, I became concerned that the NGOs I’d expect to conduct that research had failed to do so. To my mind, this is a dereliction of their duty to the community.

But given they had failed, I felt GSN owed it to LGBTI people to undertake the work. So we commissioned expert human rights lawyers to examine the issue.

Their report, Brexit: The LGBT Impact Assessment is frightening. It sets out how the government has scrapped constitutional protections on LGBTI rights with no replacement. Brexit makes it far easier for future UK governments to chip away at our rights or remove them altogether.

Others agree with this assessment. As I say, few people have thought about our community in this. But when people look into it, they quickly become very worried indeed. Experts have concluded LGBTIs should be on ‘red alert’ over Brexit.

By contrast, the EU has been good to people in the UK. It is thanks to the European Union homophobic bosses can no longer sack you for your sexuality – among a range of other benefits.

The EU also gives the UK influence and a mechanism to argue for LGBTI rights around the world. Meanwhile our European peers have helped us win same-sex marriage.

Why Gay Star News is formally backing a People’s Vote

Gay Star News has a strong history of party-political neutrality. We’ve thought long and hard about taking a stance on Brexit.

However, our whole team agrees that it is our job to stand up for the LGBTI community. That starts with pointing out the facts but it also means fighting our corner.

The truth is, most of our community agree Brexit is bad. Of those who expressed a view, 72% of LGBTIs support a People’s Vote. It is, after all, the fairest, most democratic, and most practical way to avert disaster.

The Brexiteers can no longer pretend that leaving the EU will be easy. All the Brexit options they are touting will be disastrous for Britain and dangerous for LGBTIs. Nobody has yet advanced a plan which is better for the UK or for LGBTIs than remaining in the EU.

LGBT+ for a People’s Vote

We are all sick of just talking about Brexit. Now is the time to act decisively. So we’re working with the official People’s Vote campaign and are coordinating community leaders to create an LGBT+ for a People’s Vote group.

Next week, we’ll be delivering a letter to the Prime Minister, calling for a People’s Vote. It will be signed by a broad range of LGBTI leaders and influencers.

Then on Saturday 6 October, we’ve organized for clubs and bars across the country to hold an LGBTI Party for a People’s Vote.

And on Saturday 20 October, we hope you will turn out in force to join the main People’s Vote march. We want to unite our community in a colorful, loud and proud block at the march – a Pride for a People’s Vote.

Stopping this imminent catastrophe will not be easy. But our community has managed far harder things in the past. And most of Britain is now on our side. They don’t want Brexit either. So we must now act, or live with the consequences for ever.

A People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal – including the choice to remain in the EU – is becoming more likely by the day. Together, we must make it happen.

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