I was very saddened and disappointed reading last week’s letters page, to see the level of ignorance that still exists around the rights of LGBT+ community.
Although some seem to think the rights of our LGBT+ community currently have materialized out of nowhere, they were in fact, hard won and continue to be fought hard for across the world.
Perhaps Mr Chandran remembers early in his own political career, when he was then a proud founder member of the local Anti-Nazi League, the persecution the LGBT+ community suffered by attacks from the far right, and the imposition of Clause 28 by the Thatcher government, a mere 30 years ago, which marked a disturbing backwards step for tolerance and inclusivity after the strides made by the British LGBT+ movement since the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1967. It was a Labour government that removed the clause and has always been an ally of all minority groups fighting prejudice, oppression, ignorance and inequality, both in the UK and across the world.
There are those in the UK today who would like to see LGBT+ rights abolished. At the 2018 conference, UKIP leaders promised to abolish the equality act and ‘gut’ LGBT+ rights, with Henry Bolton saying LGBT+ equality had gone ‘too far’. This week we have had a prominent Brexit Party member and ex Tory, Ann Widdecombe, stating homosexuality is something to be ‘cured’, which indicated where they stand on the issue.
Those rights, which UKIP and others would like to see removed, have not been won by minority groups remaining quietly in the background so as not to be ‘singled out’ as Mr Chandran seemingly would like to see, but through the struggle, protest and sacrifice, of those making a stand and being visible, and those rights, once won, are easily removed as we are seeing daily across the world.
In many countries it is still illegal to fall in love with someone of the same gender, or express openly their true gender identity, facing harsh and horrific penalties for doing so. I am proud that Aycliffe can now join with the majority of other towns up and down the country by showing our support for and celebrating our LGBT+ community with the raising of the Pride Equality flag in our town, showing the world here in the UK we value and support our LGBT+ communities rights and are leading the world by example, by expressing our solidarity with their struggles.
It’s when we fade into the background and take our human rights for granted, we lose them, whatever those rights are, be they rights for women, for racial equality, for workers and those with disability, and, with the UN recently condemning this current Tory government for its ‘systematic violation’ of the rights of disabled people, we can see how important it is to keep being visible and keep fighting for equality across the board.
Tony Benn once said ‘‘Every generation has to fight the same battles as their ancestors had to fight, again and again, for there is no final victory and no final defeat.’’ It would be nice to think that one day this may not be true, but while it is, those that are willing, will keep fighting.
Help us fight against growing in-equality, prejudice and poverty. Join the Labour Party and help fight to make sure no person or minority suffers inequality and feels they have to remain invisible, again. We are not all the same, but we can all have the same rights, and come together in celebration of our diversity.