LGBT campaigners, including a number of MPs, have signed a letter in support of Britain leaving the EU. The letter, published today by Out & Proud, calls on voters to reflect on the role that parliament has played in bringing equality to the UK, and attempts to debunk the myth that LGBT rights and freedoms have derived from the European Union.
The letter has been signed by a number of prominent names, including Crispin Blunt MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and LGBT rights campaigner James Wharton, who was the first openly gay serving member of the armed services to appear on the front cover of the army’s own ‘Solider’ magazine.
The letter has also been signed by television personality and medical doctor David Bull, who only recently switched his support from the Remain campaign.
Crispin Blunt MP, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Select Committee said:
“Britain is proudly at the forefront of LGBTI equality and will continue to be one of the world’s leading proponents of LGBTI rights if we Leave the EU.
There are some who purposely confuse the debate by muddling the EU and ECHR, and say that by leaving one we will leave the other. This is completely false. The EU and the ECHR are completely different treaties, and there is no question of us leaving the ECHR.
Outside the EU we will have a renewed positive global role. A role that is more attuned to our people, economic strengths, history and culture. We should Leave the EU to play a positive not a defensive and negative role in the world.”
Campaigners were out in force yesterday in Soho and campaigner make a last minute push to attract support. Adam Lake, Director of Out & Proud, commented, “It’s quite clear from talking to people this afternoon that LGBT people are seriously concerned about how unaccountable the EU has become. We enjoy a high standard of equality in the UK but that is only secure within a functioning democracy that has the ability to chuck politicians out every five years. The EU talks a good talk on LGBT rights, but when it comes to bringing in actual legislation and other protections its record is simply not good enough.”
[The letter in full]
Britain has undoubtedly led the world in the development of LGBT rights, which started with the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK in 1967.
We are allowed to marry whoever we love (Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013), make a family (Adoption and Children Act of 2002) and are protected from discrimination in society and at work (Equality Act 2010). This is something our country can be proud of.
It is a complete myth that these rights have come from the European Union, where many countries constitutionally ban same-sex marriage, have forced sterilisation for those who wish to change gender and even ban LGBT people from serving in the military.
The EU is now very different from when we joined. With the addition of socially conservative Eastern European countries in 2004, and countries such as Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro looking to join, LGBT rights look set to be held back further as those with a less tolerant views veto legislation, as we have recently seen from Hungary.
Our rights in the UK have been secured and will be advanced further by having a strong, democratic and accountable parliament in Westminster. Where we know who our representatives are, can speak with them directly, and importantly can remove them if we choose to at elections every five years.
If we Leave the EU, we can continue to strengthen our rights in the UK, but also become more international in our focus. We have neglected our LGBT friends around the world and in the Commonwealth, where in many countries homosexuality is not only illegal but punishable by death.
One of the best ways to improve LGBT rights around the world is through trade. With the EU banning the UK from agreeing our own trade deals, and taking our seat in the World Trade Organisation, we are banned from using our trade influence as a progressive voice to help LGBT people around the world.
As members of the LGBT community we are confident that the UK will remain a beacon of human rights and have the tools to be a stronger advocate of LGBT rights around the world if we Leave the European Union.
Notes to editors
Below is a summary of LGBT rights across EU countries:
- Constitutional ban on marriage: 6/28
- Compulsory sterilisation to legally change gender: 13/28
- No form of civil union: 6/28
- No full adoption rights: 14/28
- No right to IVF for Lesbians: 8/28
- No serving in the military: 1/28
- No right to legally change gender: 1/28
- No ban on discrimination in providing goods/services: 4/28
Signatures (in a personal capacity)
Crispin Blunt MP, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Select Committee
Stuart Andrew MP, Member of Parliament for Pudsey
William Wragg MP, Member of Parliament for Hazel Grove
Iain Stewart MP, Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes South
Daniel Kawczynski MP, Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury
Nigel Evans MP, Member of Parliament for the Ribble Valley
Ross Thomson MSP, MSP for North East Scotland
Dr David Bull, Television presenter, businessman and medical doctor
Malcolm Tyndall, Director of Fundraising, British Lung Foundation
David Bridle, Managing Director, Boyz Magazine
Will Fletcher, Operations Manager, Diversity Role Models
Tom Lees, Corporate Affairs, Mace Group
Isaac Duffy, Policy Director, Northern Tory Policy Group
JP Floru, author, City of Westminster Councillor
Lucy Paton-Brown, LGBT campaigner
The Reverend Steven Browning
Andrew Kennedy, political blogger and writer
Cllr Paul Seeby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Development, Broxbourne Council
Marc Cranfield-Adams, First openly gay Mayor of Richmond upon Thames
Cllr James Cottis, Rochford Parish Council
Joe Lewis, Actor
Cllr Joe Porter, Students for Britain
James Wharton, First openly gay serving member of the military to appear on the cover of ‘Soldier’ magazine, author and LGBT campaigner
Robert Winterton, LGBT campaigner
Adam Lake, Director, Out & Proud