LGBT Labour

As the LGBT community gathers for Belfast Pride, the fight for marriage equality in Northern Ireland continues

First published on LabourList

Today I will be at Brighton Pride with LGBT Labour, marching for rights and recognition, celebrating the great strides forward. Since 2001 the legal situation for LGBT people in the United Kingdom has been transformed. But not for all of our citizens.

Today is also Belfast Pride – a timely reminder of the contrasting rights within our union and the now stark contrast on the island of Ireland too. Just last year the Republic voted to change the Catholic country’s constitution and recognise marriage equally for all. (more…)

Solidarity with Orlando

First published on ProgressOnline

The LGBT community and its allies in Orlando, Florida were the victims of an appalling hate crime and terrorist attack in the early hours of Sunday morning. We stand with them and their partners, friends and families at this difficult time and know, in the end, that Love Wins. We wish the 50 plus injured victims a speedy recovery and mourn the 50 who have perished.

LGBT equality is hard fought and never won in perpetuity. While we express support for the victims we should remember two other things. First, those who have fought for the insufficient and fragile equality that we currently have. And second, the LGBT community in all its diversity, especially LGBT Muslims. Many will fear being rejected from both communities but should be welcome in gay bars and Mosques more than ever. Faith and friends are vital for many in times of grief and horror. (more…)

The final announcement from your in-flight team

First published on ProgressOnline

As everyone passes through customs at the end of Operation Flight I want to stop and thank everyone who made this possible.

First, your cabin crew, the Progress staff and volunteers who have taken a lead in the nine seats Labour is targeting where the incumbent Conservative or Liberal Democrat member of parliament is standing down.

In addition the 15 Labour MPs and MEPs, especially our chair John Woodcock MP, who took the captain’s seat and led the campaign days from the front.

Close behind were the Progress strategy board members – those you have decided to elect to lead the organisation. Based across the country, many doing the hard graft of being a councillor, they show Progress at its best.

The support from Labour Students, LGBT Labour and Community Union as they pilled in behind was crucial to the success of the day and shows how vibrant our movement is.

The party staff – we have excellent organisers – they do our party and our politics proud and these events always take more organising that anyone ever acknowledges.

Finally the 213 volunteers who turn out in all weathers and knocked those doors. That is nearly 500 volunteer hours.

Together we started 4526 conversations. Broken down by seat that is:

Brent Central: 693
Cardiff North: 794
Cannock Chase: 413
Dudley South: 350
Erewash: 498
Hove: 930
North Warwickshire: 202
Redcar: 192
South Ribble: 454

Our candidates across the country are the heros of this election campaign. I do not know anyone in the 106 target list that is not going above and beyond to get Labour that extra MP. Everyone in Progress was proud to be out campaigning with their #OpFlight Labour candidate. They have all had different flight paths to Labour but the destination is the same: a one-term Tory government brought to an end and a Labour majority to make this country fairer, stronger and working for all.

This week our leader Ed Miliband promised we would make four million conversations. In just nine seats we started well over 4,000 today. Lots done, lots to be done but either way bring on 7 May.

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Richard Angell is director of Progress

Stop homophobic hatred: don’t let the Tories wreck Clause 58

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The third reading of the Justice and Coroners Bill is set for the Commons on Monday. Clause 58 will re-instate the incitement to homophobia legislation and remove the Lord Waddington amendment that give fanatics a legal protection to their bigotry

The bill will outlaw hate speech that calls for the raping and murder of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, it condemns rap lyrics that inspire violence and cuts off at the source those who encourage bullying of LGB children in our schools. The “incitement” context, like with race and religion, sets the bar very high. The legal threshold for a conviction has only been reached on the rarest of occasions. The public benefit must be strong and the attorney general must sign off on the CPS’ intervention. This will not mean jokes, or that bible quotes will be ruled out of order, but only the words of those who want to see hurt and destruction. (more…)

The truth behind the Tories’ pro-gay rhetoric

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The Tories have been falling over themselves to demonstrate their new ‘pro-gay’ credentials as a symbol that they are no longer the nasty party. But it is on their more recent record that they should be judged.

Many gay people will never forget that Tory Hate made Section 28, but people cannot deny that the rhetoric at least has changed – Cameron will do interviews with Gay Times, Boris will attend Pride. Though their words have altered, the lobby door they walk through has not! (more…)

What’s moral any more?

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

The decision by the government to give three free votes on vital elements in the human fertilisation and embryology bill so that some senior members of the government don’t feel the need to resign on ‘moral’ grounds is both sad and problematic. It suggests that a religiously held belief is more important, or more substantial, than a non-religiously held belief. In the immediate context, and moving beyond the theoretical arguments, is demonstrates a disregard for those loyal members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who voted through the abolition of the 10p rate of tax against their better judgement.

I do not want to go into detail on the 10p rate on tax, but we all know instinctively how this decision feels and we all know why. Helping the poor and disadvantaged is part of the lifeblood of the Labour movement. As a principle it is ingrained within the fabric of our party, and compelling arguments have been voiced on how this principle has been compromised by the abolition of the lower tax rate.

(more…)