UK citizens only have until Tuesday 7 May 2019 to register to vote in the European elections.
On 23 May, voters across the European Union will be asked to vote for MEPs to represent them in the European Parliament. This is particularly important for LGBTI voters, as the rise of far right parties poses a direct threat to the lives of the community.
If you are a British, EU or Commonwealth citizen living in the UK, you can register to vote here. It’s a simple form that only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll need a copy of your passport if you’re living abroad.
Tris Reid-Smith, Editor-in-Chief at Gay Star News and organizer of LGBT+ for a People’s Vote is urging LGBTI people across Europe to vote to protect their lives.
He said: ‘The European Elections are more important to LGBTI people and our friends, families and allies than ever before. We urgently need to turn out in huge numbers to stop the far-right parties who are hoping to benefit from our apathy.
‘The risk they pose is growing – but together we can defeat them.’
The rise of the Right
The biggest threat to LGBTI people in the UK is the UK Independence Party (UKIP). They have a history of putting forward anti-LGBTI candidates, who are also racist and anti-women.
Most recently they’ve put forward Carl Benjamin – known in the alt-right world as Sargon of Akkad. He has stated he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ Labour MP Jess Phillips. The party resisted calls to fire him. Benjamin then said: ‘I’ve been in a lot of trouble for my hardline stance of not even raping her.
‘I suppose with enough pressure I might cave. But let’s be honest, nobody’s got that much beer.’
UKIP candidate for Scotland, Mark Meechan, has been linked to a series of racist forum posts on US-based gaming site Discord. Many of the posts were homophobic. They have now been taken down, after BBC approached the site for comment.
Last year, a UKIP MEP – Lord Dartmouth – quit the party, saying it has become ‘widely perceived as both homophobic and anti-Islamic’.
Former leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, has set up the Brexit Party to run in the European elections. Gay Star News has reported many times how Brexit will be fundamentally detrimental to LGBTI people.
Far-right Tommy Robinson is also running for MEP. The former English Defence League leader is running as an Independent in the North West. He’s been met with heavy resistance – and two milkshakes to the face.
The far-right made major gains across Europe in recent years. During Spain’s 2019 General Election, the far-right Vox party rose from 0 to 24 seats. They are anti-LGBTI, which is a worrying trend in a country traditionally known to be progressive. Their success means no one can be complacent.
Vox are against same-sex marriage and proposed introducing a separate form of civil unions. Also, they even posted a meme of them fighting a ghost representing the LGBTI community on their Facebook after the election. They also oppose adoption by same-sex parents.
The European elections to bring a People’s Vote
Tris Reid-Smith also implores citizens of the UK to help stop Brexit with a vote in these elections: ‘For those of us in the UK, the EU Elections are even more pivotal. Brexit would dangerously undermine the constitutional protections we have gained over the last couple of decades.
‘If, like most LGBTI Britons, you are a proud Remainer, you need to register vote and turn out to vote. Otherwise you are handing an important PR victory to Nigel Farage. But if we again turn out, we can dominate the results in the EU Elections.
‘This is another important step in securing a People’s Vote so we have our say on any ‘deal or no deal’ and get a swift way out of the Brexit nightmare.’