With the Conservative party delivering a calamitous Brexit, LGBT+ Britons are living in fear
The future of the Britain and its relationship with the rest of Europe is mired in apprehension as Brexit continues to wreak disastrous havoc on our political culture and climate. Now the government has negotiated an extension with EU, it still doesn’t rule a no-deal outcome down the line. What remains to be seen is causing severe anxieties amongst the British public, particularly when we get no answers from our representatives in parliament.
As a gay man and staunch advocate for LGBT rights, I am deeply concerned that our country’s legally binding LGBT laws are under threat from a Conservative-led Brexit, an issue that’s generally untouched by the media. The European Union have helped us instil ground-breaking and transformative laws that prohibit once pervasive discrimination against LGBT individuals. For example, in 1996, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled a trans woman’s dismissal from her job due to her gender reassignment surgery an act of unlawful sex discrimination. Furthermore, the ECJ has famously defied British government traditions by implementing equal anti-discrimination laws for sexual orientation and ending a ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the military. Although the British justice system introduced civil partnerships and same-sex marriage on its own, they were still a protégé to a pioneering EU, who’s members had done so years prior.
Although our government have vowed to protect the laws already in place regarding the protection of the LGBT community, it is difficult to stand by a Conservative party whose stance on gay rights hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The notorious section 28 law, heralded by the late Tory PM Margaret Thatcher, allowed an intolerant and prolific homophobic dialogue to prevail in Britain. Moreover, our current chancellor, Philip Hammond, has espoused anti-gay rhetoric only as recently as 2014, when he compared same-sex relationships with ones of incest. Therefore, these examples are justifiable as to why proponents of LGBT rights remain sceptical as to how a Conservative Brexit will ensure lawful protections for those who are different. The prime minister’s Brexit deal dismantles Britain’s ties with the ECJ but still uses the EU Charter, which has introduced pro-LGBT laws, as the bedrock of our legal framework. The only difference, according to Theresa May’s pledge, is there will no longer be an appointment of a British Advocate-General to the ECJ. Whether May abides by her proposal remains to be seen, but the idea of a no-deal crash out of the EU brings out a lot more angst in the public.
If a no-deal scenario is the outcome and parliament fail to implement a deal for the British people, it could completely jeopardise the use of anti-discrimination laws in this country that were derived from Europe. I am certainly worried that the U.K would be left to produce their own laws for British society and the workplace. Trade unions have always been significant mobilisers in gaining workplace equality protection from the EU. However, with the increasing powerlessness of trade unions under a Tory premiership, their influence in new proposals would not be as commanding.
Other than a People’s Vote, which I wholeheartedly advise, the only other option is to negotiate a softer Brexit under a Labour government. The Labour opposition, with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, have promised a close relationship with the EU by remaining in the customs union and so on. In fear of disenfranchising the 48% of people who voted to remain, it is crucial a soft Brexit deal takes place to avoid a catastrophic revolt across the nation. The majority of LGBT voters opted for the Labour party in the 2017 snap election, it is only obvious that a soft Brexit, if a confirmatory vote doesn’t take place, is the primary solution for a diversifying electorate.