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2016 National LGBT Conference
1 January 2016

Conference condemns the racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant tone evident in much campaigning in the lead up to the vote on European Union (EU) membership on 23 July. Conference further condemns the lies told about the link between EU membership and the future of the United Kingdom (UK) in relation to the economy, migration, human rights and funding of the National Health Service, amongst other matters.

Conference is deeply concerned about the clear damage to community relations and individual safety, noting the rise in visible, expressed racism and hate incidents and hate crimes since the vote. Conference is further concerned about how it fed the fears of disenfranchised and disadvantaged communities – many traditional Labour supporters – who are experiencing declining living standards and the brunt of swingeing public sector cuts. Members of these communities who voted to leave the EU were not voting for increased austerity or cuts to public services and benefits.

Conference notes the impact on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, which reflects wider society, with increasing fear and division. LGBT people are experiencing increased hatred and may themselves turn against others within our community.

LGBT people could see an erosion or even removal of hard won equality and employment protections once we are out of the EU. Across numerous areas including health, immigration, employment and asylum leaving the EU could have both short and long term issues.

The Equality Act (EA) introduced in 2010 is underpinned by numerous EU laws and regulations. Without this foundation and protection there is nothing to stop the EA being changed and rights reduced or removed altogether. Discussion of a British Bill of Rights gives cause for concern, particularly when considering LGBT members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

According to one of Britain’s leading experts on international LGBT human rights law (Jonathan Cooper), apart from civil partnerships and same-sex marriage, all other LGBT equality legislation that Britain enjoys arose from Europe.

Already the Conservative Government has hinted at changes to human rights legislation and the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act 1998.

Conference believes it is vital that we reaffirm our values.

We assert:

1. Our commitment to opposing racism, xenophobia and the politics of division;

2. Our determination that hope will succeed over hate;

3. Our opposition to attempts to introduce free trade, low investment, low tax policies across the UK;

4. That the answer to low pay and exploitation is stronger employment rights, collective bargaining and trade union solidarity against racism and prejudice;

5. The need for coherent and effective opposition to the Tory government;

6. That whether living within the EU or not, we are Europeans, and part of a global trade union movement.

Conference calls on the national LGBT committee, working with regional and branch LGBT groups and the national LGBT group caucuses, to:

A. Challenge the politics of hate and be vigorous in their campaigning;

B. Be extra vigilant in watching and campaigning to retain and extend the rights we have fought for;

C. Promote reporting of hate incidents and hate crimes and publicise 3rd party reporting options;

D. Promote demands for trade union involvement in Brexit negotiations;

E. Remind our members and the wider LGBT community why we face public spending cuts, promoting alternatives to austerity and the benefits of collective bargaining;

F. Talk to members and potential members about the importance of voting in line with our values in upcoming elections, addressing the sense of dislocation between Westminster and local communities;

G. Work through Labour Link and with LGBT Labour to engage LGBT members in building the most effective opposition to the Tory government;

H. Promote our internationalism as an LGBT trade union group, working with our sister unions, labour internationals and global lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex organisation, ILGA.