Now Reading
Think being LGBTI has nothing to do with Brexit? Think again

Think being LGBTI has nothing to do with Brexit? Think again

Tris Reid-Smith [right] and Scott Nunn of Gay Star News | Photo: Jamie Wareham

If you think that your sexuality or gender identity has little to do with what you stand to lose from Brexit, then our report, LGBTI & THE EU: The LGBTI Case for a People’s Vote may alarm you.

It sets out how LGBT rights have been driven forward by our EU membership and are underwritten by it.

The UK Government has used Brexit to undermine human rights protections in general, and has indicated it would erode them further after Brexit.

Without a UK constitution or EU protection to guarantee our rights as an LGBTI community, we should indeed be alarmed. LGBT people in this country remember the spectre of Section 28.

We know, therefore, that an unfriendly future government can enshrine homophobia or transphobia in law. Our UK community is well connected to LGBTIs in other parts of the world and has witnessed of politicians reversing our rights with devastating consequences.

Leave MPs have a bad record on LGBTI issues

Britain has advanced in its overall attitudes to LGBTI people. But many of the senior UK politicians backing Brexit have openly homophobic and transphobic records.

The statistics on UK ‘Leave’-supporting MPs are included in this report. Trusting the future of the rights we have worked so hard to achieve to their goodwill seems to me to be reckless.

We should also be concerned for the impact Brexit would have on LGBTI rights internationally. The UK is a generally positive force in promoting LGBTI equality in the EU and the EU provides effective mechanisms for us to promote equality

Therefore Brexit, and the loss of those mechanisms and connections, harms not only our rights but those of others in Europe and beyond.

As with so much of Brexit, the UK has presented no clear plans for how we may replace what we’ve lost.

Despite all this, the government has been aided by the silence of many of the UK’s LGBTI organisations on Brexit. From fearing to appear too ‘political’ they have failed in their duty to protect our community’s interests.

People’s Vote

This newly revised and updated version of this report sets out the positive case, from the LGBTI perspective, for the UK to remain in the EU. This is now a real possibility. A People’s Vote is rapidly emerging as the best way out of the political crisis paralyzing the UK Parliament.

We now know the Leave campaign in 2016 was tainted by electoral fraud as well as overt dishonesty. We know for certain that the campaign promises made to secure Brexit can not be delivered.

It is clear from the general polling that the majority of UK voters do not support the government’s proposed Brexit deal.

Likewise, there seems little evidence to suggest that any Brexit deal, or the option of not having a deal, would win majority support in the country. If given the chance to vote again, the polls indicate that the majority would vote to remain in the EU.

This report also contains the latest polling on LGBT voters attitudes towards the EU. The statistics prove what we already suspected, that our community clearly favors remaining.

And, excitingly, they show that the LGBTI community, although only a small part of the population, could decide the difference between remaining or leaving the EU, if we secure a People’s Vote.

LGBTI & Brexit

I am proud that Gay Star News has partnered with LGBT+ for a People’s Vote to make this case to our community and our country.

The People’s Vote movement has attracted huge support from LGBTI people across the UK already and I hope even more people will join us in this vital work.

Our community has a strong history of activism. It is precisely because we have had to fight for our rights that we are effective campaigners for positive change. Now we must do what we do best: stand up, mobilise and use our voices to change the course of history for a better future.

Finally, I am deeply indebted to the report’s authors for taking on my commission pro-bono and for providing their unparalleled expertise on this subject. I hope their words will be read with care, and their warnings heeded, before it is too late.

What can we do about this?

The People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum on Brexit has announced a march the weekend before the UK leaves the EU.

On 23 March, members of the LGBTI community will march together and demand Parliament Put it to the People in a People’s Vote.

The new demonstration, supported by GSN, is likely to be even bigger than last year’s march.

Last year’s attracted a record-breaking crowd of about 700,000.

Read the full report below

Tris Reid-Smith is Gay Star News’ CEO and editor-in-chief.