Well, folks. Five years came around quickly and we have another general election. It is fast becoming a hallmark of British discourse that we identify who is with us and who is against us.
Each time round, the conversation is different. Two years ago, the Tories got their majority, on the proviso that we have a conversation about “Brexit”. One year ago, we had that conversation about Brexit (and lost). This year, the main talking point is Brexit.
And yet, we have triggered that Article 50 thing; triggering two years of negotiations that decides the direction (i.e. just how acute the angle downwards we should point) of our separation from the European Union.
Now, it would be incredibly daft to start the negotiating window and immediately take leave to have a national conversation about everything to do with the country. It is akin to waiting until you arrive at the front of the queue at McDonald’s and then asking the cashier to wait a moment while you plan your entire diet regimen.
The last general election was a complete failure. The result of that election was to reinstate a prime minister that was doomed to abandon his post; the country ended up splitting fairly evenly (though intrinsically polemically) over a complex amalgamation of issues, many of which were not discussed in great length; and the term of the government was actually two years, not the five enshrined in law.
Of course, the law allows a new “snap” election if two-thirds of the representatives in the House of Commons voted accordingly, which they did so in this case. This election is styled as giving the people a second referendum to decide who should lead the negotiations. What a terrible lie.
But what of LGBT+ rights? And where does asexuality fit into all of this? In the wake of the terrible things happening in Chechnya, and sexual violence used against asexual people the world over, what the major parties doing to ensure that we are protected?
Well, the Tories want to “see attitudes to disability shift as they have for race, gender and sexuality in recent years: it should be completely unacceptable for people with disabilities to be treated negatively” (p. 57 from their manifesto). Aside from the lack of commitment — that’s what they want to see with no detail as to how they would do it — it’s quite a telling statement. Attitudes towards LGBT+ people are patchy, inconsistent and, in asexuality’s case, completely overlooked. So that would seem the Tories’ are happy to see some disabled people treated more fairly and positively, but that rather depends on their disability.
Labour have committed to addressing the Equality Act 2010, though this is mostly to remove outdated terminology used to refer to transgender people. They also wish to reinforce hate crime legislation to ensure that hate crimes against “LGBT” people are treated the same as those based on race and faith. A commitment to “ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive” (p. 111) limits children’s awareness to a select few sexual orientations, it seems.
The Lib Dems use the acronym “LGBT+”, which is encouraging in terms of its commitment to ensure that school children receive a broader range of sexual orientations. However, it does not suggest a change in the Equality Act 2010; neither does it refer to asexuality, specifically.
The Green Party refers to “LGBTQIA+” and “action to tackle … real equality for LGBTIQA+ people” (p. 21) — they do not elaborate on what this means in their manifesto.
UKIP want to end sex and relationship education in primary schools. Their manifesto refers to LGBT+ rights in passing; they are presented as a necessary weapon for the battle against immigration.
It doesn’t feel like we’ve got very far in the past two years.