Friday, 21 May 2010

Five years, five pledges

The new left-right coalition's Programme for Government document has been published today, including a number of pledges on queer issues. The document sets out the agreed programme for the five-year coalition government so they have until 2015 to get it all done.

Those on-the-ball Delga folk say it includes the following:
The Government believes that there are many barriers to social mobility and equal opportunities in Britain today, with too many children held back because of their social background, and too many people of all ages held back because of their gender, race, religion or sexuality. We need concerted government action to tear down these barriers and help to build a fairer society.
• We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.
• We will use our relationships with other countries to push for unequivocal support for gay rights and for UK civil partnerships to be recognised internationally.
• We will change the law so that historical convictions for consensual gay sex with over-16s will be treated as spent and will not show up on criminal records checks.
• We will promote better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
• We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying.
The first thing that strikes me is that as the world has moved on, central legislation on LGBT issues increasingly looks beyond the UK to issues of equality worldwide.  Which is great, and timely: we needed to put our own house in order first.  Ten years ago Labour and Tory legislators had seen to it we had plenty to do here, and pressing for change overseas invited reasonable charges of hypocrisy.

The second is that awful line "hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people" - a copy and paste job from a mangled line in the Lib Dem manifesto.  As a bi activist, I have railed about it before: I trust that when it comes to the legislative stage it will be turned from what they say into what they mean.

The third is that the trans and genderqueer stuff out of the Lib Dem manifesto didn't make it through.  This is a damn shame, for all that the abolition of ID cards and the identity register removes two of the pressing issues around non-binary gendered identities.

But after those Labour governments which kept LGBT stuff out of the manifesto for fear of scaring the horses, and then deployed a string of delaying tactics over acting on equality, what a refreshing thing it is to have a clear idea of what is on the government's mind to implement in the years ahead. 

We have to make sure they deliver on it, and press them to do the other stuff, too. Write to your MP, and write often, folks!

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