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UK government claims success in LGBT Action Plan, but activists disagree

UK government claims success in LGBT Action Plan, but activists disagree

Theresa May addresses the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting this morning

The UK government has claimed success following one year since it launched its LGBT Action Plan.

However, some LGBTI activists disagree with the Conservative government’s assessment.

Ministers have said they have completed a third of the plan in its year. They have also pledged the rest will be carried out by May 2022.

UK claims success in the LGBT Action Plan

Downing Street hosts Pride reception | Photo: 10 Downing StreetDowning Street hosts Pride reception | Photo: 10 Downing Street
Downing Street hosts Pride reception | Photo: 10 Downing Street

The government has said they have achieved the following:

  • Consulted on the Gender Recognition Act, and how to improve it.
  • Appointing the UK’s first National LGBT Health Adviser
  • Doubled the number of places available on the PrEP Impact Trial
  • Anti-LGBTI bullying programme in more than 1,800 schools (there are over 32,000 schools in the UK

Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, said: ‘Everyone in the UK deserves the freedom to love whoever they love and to be themselves.

‘I would like to thank all of those people who have worked to deliver points in the action plan so far… The recent protests in Birmingham, and violent attacks on LGBT people show we still need to keep pushing forward with decisive action.’

Conversion therapy

Little is said in the Action Plan about plans to ban conversion therapy.

Otherwise known as ‘gay cure’ therapy, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to ban the harmful and dangerous practice.

In July 2018, the National LGBT survey findings showed that 2% of LGBTI respondents had undergone conversion therapies. A further 5% had been offered them.

Anyone who has been offered conversion therapy is asked to get in touch with Coventry University Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Asylum seekers

Asylum seekers are facing 'too high a bar' in the UK | Photo: Immigration Equality
Asylum seekers are facing ‘too high a bar’ in the UK | Photo: Immigration Equality

When the LGBT Action Plan was released, they received criticism for not vowing to protect LGBTI asylum seekers.

The Home Office’s own statistics say the UK is also rejecting more LGBT asylum seekers’ claims than ever before, more than from any other vulnerable group.

African Equality Foundation’s Edwin Sesange told Gay Star News: ‘Protecting asylum seekers should be a priority for the UK government.

The UK are the chair-of-office of the Commonwealth right now. If they don’t treat LGBTI asylum seekers as a priority, who’s going to do that?’

He also said: ‘These laws are originally from the UK. There can’t just be apologizing, there needs to be action.’

Leila Zadeh, executive director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration group, agreed. She urged the government to completely end the detention of LGBTI people.

‘Detention of LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum is wholly inappropriate,’ she said. They run a significant risk of being locked up among other people who may display the same discriminatory attitudes and hostility from which they have fled.

‘They also frequently struggle to be granted refugee status if they have to make their asylum applications from inside a detention center.

‘The government should give greater consideration to alternatives to detention… Allow LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum to remain in the community while their claims are processed’.

The High Court recently ordered the UK to return a lesbian wrongly deported back to Uganda. GSN questioned when it will be safe for LGBTI people to seek asylum in the UK, and a government spokesperson assured us a response.

Marriage equality in Northern Ireland

Two women waving the rainbow flag at Belfast Pride 2017. Northern Ireland
Same-sex couples can’t legally marry in Northern Ireland. | Photo: Belfast Pride/Facebook

There is also nothing in the LGBT Action Plan about efforts to pass marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

Mordaunt, in her speech at the Pride reception at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (2 July), mentioned it as a ‘serious issue’.

However, candidates for the next Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both said they will not help Northern Ireland achieve marriage equality. They both also claimed it was a devolved issue and a matter for the Assembly. Assembly has been suspended for two and a half years.

Gavin Boyd, policy manager of The Rainbow Project, condemned the PM contenders. .

He told Gay Star News: ‘The UK Parliament is sovereign. It absolutely has the power and authority to legislate for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. The failure to do so is an affront to human rights and a deliberate insult to LGBT people.

‘The ban on marriage equality in Northern Ireland [also impacts] anyone who travels here. As long as an illogical patchwork of marriage laws exists, then the UK does not truly have marriage equality.

‘It is simply not good enough for those wanting to hold the highest office in the country to pretend that this is not in their power to fix. By refusing to end the ban on marriage equality in Northern Ireland, they are upholding it.’

Gay Star News asked the government: ‘How can an LGBT Action Plan succeed when not every LGBT person in the UK has the same rights?’

Again, we were told we would receive a response as soon as possible.

Exiting Prime Minister

Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘I am proud to be the Prime Minister of a country which is consistently ranked among the most LGBT-friendly in the world, but last year’s National LGBT survey showed that there is still lots more to do.

‘Our LGBT Action Plan contained more than 75 commitments, spanning the whole of government and the entirety of an LGBT person’s life.

‘It demonstrated that we took the results of that survey extremely seriously.

‘I am pleased with how much we have delivered already while knowing there is a lot more to do.’