Thursday, 17 June 2010

"Working for LGBT Equality": Coalition Doublespeak

So no surprises with the LGBT rights document released by the Coalition yesterday. It simply confirms what was in the original Coalition Agreement.

However I must say the name is rather disingenuous. There is nothing in the document that is truly about making LGBT people "equal" citizens. It seems to all be about tackling specific issues that LGBT people might face, which is worthy but hardly inspiring or much different to the previous Labour Government's take on LGBT rights.

1) Tackling homophobic bullying. Very good, as long as we continue to focus on dealing with ALL types of bullying as well. I really don't see a joined up thought process with this. How can one directly deal with homophobic bullying when LGBT people are still not on a level playing field with straight people in terms of rights? If you tackle the issue by just trying to stamp out bullying without tackling underlying social and political causes of it, then it's never going to work. In my opinion, of course.
2) Workplace discrimination. Given the legislation now in force, I find it rather annoying that the Government wants to interfere further with businesses. An education campaign about workers rights for everyone might be a better idea. So many are ignorant of their rights, which allows unscrupulous businesses to get away with all sorts.
3) Family. Religious civil partnerships. Well it's got the right idea. Sadly, however, this is yet another regressive step, cementing the separate but equal status of civil partnerships. Certainly good news that the Coalition respects LGBT's right to freedom of religion. Bad news they don't support our right to be equal citizens.
4) Civil society. What utter nonsense. Educating people in general as to how to get involved with civil society would be a good idea. What silliness are they playing at in trying to encourage LGBT's in particular to get involved??? Grr... special rights are wonderful but are NOT equal rights.
5) Public Services. "This would mean that public bodies such as hospitals and local councils would need to involve the LGB and T communities" I did not know I had elected an LGB and T representative to this "community" to represent me. Be interested to know who they'll decide represents us (better not be Stonewall!)
6) Crime and justice. I welcome move to better record hate crimes and remove out of date and irrelevant convictions for things that are no longer crimes.
7) Promoting rights internationally. I trust this is as a part of an ACTUAL "ethical foreign policy" and not just a sop to us. So many different groups/individuals suffer under repressive regimes.
8) Additional action for transgender equality. I'll be interested to see the promised report on transgender rights when it comes out next year.

So yes, all this is "nice" stuff. I don't want to come across as being unduly harsh on the Equalities Ministry. They have their hearts in the right place, as it were. But this is still very disappointing. Instead of being about individual freedom, it's all about offering "special rights". The ban on giving blood, and the continuing ban on marriage equality, are not mentioned.

A opportunity to move beyond "LGBT rights" to a bold "equal citizenship" agenda has been missed. It's 2010. We've come a long way since the dark days of the Thatcher and Major Governments. But true freedom remains ever elusive.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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