Queer Question Time!
Publish Date: 26/09/2011
With the party conference season well underway, we want more lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to get involved in politics and the political party’s do too!
On Sunday October 2nd (2-4pm) the Lesbian & Gay Foundation are hosting our very own Queer Question Time, and we want you to ask the panel about the issues that affect you!
What’s next for LGB&T equality? How is the age of austerity affecting our communities? What more can we do to stop HIV in our communites? Is enough being done to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime in our cities and bullying in our schools?
The event will be chaired by Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of the Lesbian & Gay Foundation and the panel will consist of LGB&T leads of the three main political parties Adrian Trett (Liberal Democrat), James Asser (Labour), Matthew Sephton (Conservative) with special guest Claire Mooney – respected singer, songwriter and radio presenter.
Ahead of Queer Question Time we caught up with the three LGBT party leads about what marks their party’s apart, and what they’re hoping for from the event.
What do you think makes your party stand out as far as progress on LGB& T rights?
Adrian (LD): Our Party has almost promoted LGBT right from before decriminalisation of homosexuality, therefore it has consistently over decades stood up for LGBT rights, and always has been the leading Party at the forefront of overcoming barriers in terms of LGBT discrimination.
James (Lab): For Labour it has to be our record in government. Huge progress was made between 1997 and 2010; an equal age of consent, adoption rights, civil partnerships, serving in the military, laws to prevent homophobic hatred, fertility rights, scrapping Section 28, the equality act, the first lesbian MP, the first gay cabinet minister and equality in provision of goods and services. There was and is more to do but as a record of achievement it is more than any other Government has ever done or attempted to do.
Matthew (Con): The Conservative Party has proved over its history that it is very capable of change and adaptation to a changing world.
Already, the following policies have been set in motion: Quashing historic convictions for sexual activity that was once illegal but now isn't; beginning a consultation on marriage equality and the future of Civil Partnerships; using British influence abroad in countries where LGBT equality doesn't exist; changing the law to allow religious Civil Partnerships and, in the Education White Paper, tackling homophobic bullying in schools.
The Conservatives also now have more openly-gay MPs in Parliament than ALL the other Parties put together.
What are the top issues you are currently campaigning for on behalf of the LGB& T community?
Adrian (LD):The top issues we are currently campaigning on is Equal Marriage for everyone to have the right to celebrate their relationship in the way they wish too (religious or otherwise) and to ensure that same-sex partnerships are recognised internationally. To reverse the blood ban on Gay & Bisexual Men and their partner(s) who cannot give blood owing to the stigma of their sexuality, not on scientific evidence. Ensuring that our country does not send back LGBT asylum seekers to countries where torture and persecution occurs, and promoting LGBT rights internationally lauding UK's tolerance as an example for less tolerant to follows and aspire too.
James (Lab): We have been working on a number of campaigns. We’ve been campaigning on marriage equality and managed to secure the support of Ed Miliband. There have been campaigns and work on the blood ban too.
We’ve been responding to and campaigning on the cases going to the European Court that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission have consulted on. International issues are something that are of big concern to our members and we’re working with a number of groups to look at ways we can campaigning on LGBT rights internationally, that includes linking up with LGBT groups from Labour parties abroad.
Matthew (Con): LGBTory has been campaigning against the blanket ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood for some time and we are pleased at the recent government announcement that this is to end. We said all along that any change in blood donation laws must take into account the best medical evidence available and we are satisfied that this has been done.
We are also campaigning for full marriage equality, and are particularly concerned that Trans issues do not get forgotten and are lobbying to ensure this does not happen.
What do you hope the audience will get from attending the Queer Question Time event on 2nd October?
Adrian (LD):I hope the audience take away from the event, a crystal clear message that the Liberal Democrats are very clearly supporting and fighting for LGBT rights in every sphere of society, and that politically as a nation all Parties agree that ensuring that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are eradicated from our society is crucial and demands cross-Party working and not political grandstanding.
James (Lab): I hope they will get to see how the different parties and political groups view LGBT rights and their different ways of approaching the issues. I also hope we get to look at wider policy and see how that links into the LGBT community, often one or two flagship issues dominate the agenda, it would be if the audience got a chance to discuss wider issues. I also hope it’ll be fun and that people will come away feeling like they can get involved in politics, whatever their viewpoint and that politics is something which everyone has a part in.
Matthew (Con): I hope that people will enjoy finding out more about the issues of the day and in gaining clarification on some things they are not sure of. Having all three main political Parties represented will show that it, even within the LGBT community it is possible for people to sometimes agree and sometimes disagree. That is part of the rich tapestry of life, after all.
If you’ve got a question for the panel, or want to come along to this FREE event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org call 0845 3 303030.