“We cannot let Brexit turn back time on our rights, and we have just hours until a decision is made (or not) on our futures”


Much has been said, in particular in recent months since the landscape has become clearer, about how Brexit will impact the most marginalised. Disabled people who rely on our NHS. Working class people who will be hit hardest by a recession. People of colour and migrants who have already seen a rise in hate crime since the 2016 referendum – and the impact there will be on human rights.

One group in particular that owes a lot to the influence of the EU, is the LGBTQI community. We have had to fight for progress on our rights and recognition in the UK for the majority of modern history, and the EU has had our backs when the Government has not.

The current cabinet is, for the first time in a long time, made up of individuals who have opposed progress for LGBTQI rights – including voting against marriage equality. For all of the flawed politics of Cameron and May, this was one thing not replicated in their respective Governments.

We’re supposed to have faith that a Government led by individuals who have not stood with our community before, will uphold the legislation that protects our hard-won rights? Yes, LGBTQI people have nothing to fear from this Government…

We cannot let Brexit turn back time on our rights, and we have just hours until a decision is made (or not) on our futures. The clock is ticking.

On Saturday 19 October 2019 – yes tomorrow – parliament will sit in an extraordinary Saturday session, (the first since the Falklands war) to determine the future of our country. We, at that same time, will be marching together for a final say, with organisations, politicians, and people from all over the country from many different walks of life. All of whom know that Brexit will be damaging to the UK and the fabric of our society.

LGBT+ For A People’s Vote, a campaign led by members of the community, will be holding a rally before the march to talk about the specific issues Brexit poses for us.

It is often forgotten that during the days of the Empire, Britain exported homophobic laws to the colonies. The UK has not historically had a tradition of being progressive in this area. Campaigning groups have repeatedly in the past used the European Court Of Human Rights to further equality legislation, such as decriminalisation of homosexuality in Scotland in 1980 – which was a case brought by the Scottish Homosexual Reform group to the EHRC. Or the age of consent for gay men being equalised in the UK to the same as the age of consent for straight people (18) in 1994, thanks to an EHRC case.

The TUC has done some excellent analysis of the legislation that LGBTQI people owe to the EU, through directives and from EHRC rulings. This includes defending equality rights, after the coalition government considered scrapping the 2010 Equality Act through its “Red Tape Challenge”, and the European Court Of Justice ruling against the British Government in 1996, defending the right of people who undergo gender reassignment to not be dismissed on these grounds.

Every step of the way on the rights of LGBTQI people, the UK Government has dragged its feet. It is through the hard work of activists, campaign groups – and yes, the European Union – that we enjoy the freedoms we have today. That is why 72% of LGBTQI people support a People’s Vote and why I will be speaking at our rally before the People’s Vote march on October 19 2019.

Join us from 10am on Saturday 19 October at the Bomber Command Memorial. For our future, for our country, for our rights. We will march together for a final say.

Rosie McKenna is a For Our Future’s Sake and LGBT+ For a People’s Vote activist.

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