Labour Party

Oh, that election

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.

Well, you asked for it

By |April 25th, 2015|Asexuality updates|0 Comments

As an aside, Newcastle United lost (again) 3-2 today and I have a cold. Today was a bad idea for the Labour Party to send the following email.

Screenshot 2015-04-25 18.05.46

The demand for money from the Labour Party has been persistent: “more than a few” is an understatement. I’ve had 32 emails from the Labour Party in the past month that have asked for donations. This one really takes the biscuit. I have no obligation to donate, so to ask for a reason why I haven’t is somewhat intimidating. Nonetheless, here is my reason.

The political parties have been persuading us that the real issues in this election are the NHS and immigration. We should also be thinking about the economic recovery. I don’t care about those so much. Leave them alone and we’re doing fine.

There is one issue for me. If you read my blog, you’d know that I would like the Equality Act 2010 changed. It creates inequality. It’s otherwise a very positive piece of legislation but it doesn’t protect everyone that it should — that is my opinion at least.

Of course, I have told the Labour Party about this already and they delivered an astonishingly poor response.

That’s not to mention the email (and the cause for all the donation spam, presumably) and the letter that I had sent to the Labour Party. I still have not received a response from them.

So, I expect that the Labour Party have no plans to help people like me. Therefore, I will not be donating to their campaign, nor will I be voting for them in this General Election. They’ve had their chances: and I’ve given them so many. A response to my question was all I wanted, and they couldn’t offer me that.

A disappointing response from Labour

By |April 19th, 2015|Asexuality updates|0 Comments

A little while ago, I received yet another email from the Labour Party asking for donations, which I thought was a bit cheeky since the only reason I’d been in contact with them was to ask them about their policy on changing the Equality Act to protect asexuals. This email was from Iain McNicol, who is the General Secretary of the Labour Party. So I replied.

Dear Iain,

It is often very easy to be cynical when it comes to political donations. But I don’t think it is far-fetched to say that individuals that donate to political parties do so because there is something in it for them. That is to say, people send donations if there’s something in it for them.

You may wish to challenge that, as is your right. However, I think it would be far more worthwhile for you, for me and the future of the country if you are able to persuade me that voting Labour is in my interests.

In order to do that, I want to be reassured about one issue. It is an issue that I have raised before with the Labour Party and received no answer. Therefore, my support hinges on your (or your representative’s) response.

I would like to be protected by the Equality Act 2010. Currently I am not. EA2010 is an otherwise excellent piece of legislation that protects British citizens and visitors to the UK. However, it has also created an underclass of people that are not protected when, in my opinion, they ought to be.

Those that do not experience sexual attraction and those sexually attracted to individuals that do not belong to the two prevailing genders are not protected by EA2010.

If you can reassure me that the Labour Party is committed to rectifying this oversight, I will be happy to support them in this election.

I eagerly await your response.

Yours,
Stephen.

It took them a while, but he replied. Well, I say he replied…

Dear Mr Broughton,

Thank you for your email regarding LGBT rights.

Labour is the Party of equality, and we believe that no person should suffer discrimination or a lack of opportunity because of their gender, gender identity, age, disability, race, religion or belief, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. In government, every decision we take will be taken with that in mind.

Labour has a proud record of leading progress on LGBT rights. Between 1997 and 2010 the Labour Government did more for the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality than any other government in British history, from equalising the age of consent, to abolishing the homophobic Section 28 and introducing Civil Partnerships.

In opposition we have continued this record with Labour votes in Parliament securing the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013. Equal marriage is an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain but now is not the time for complacency. We must not go backwards and there remain many areas where we still need to make progress, especially for transgender people. Labour will strengthen the legal rights of trans people by undertaking a review of gender identity law and policy, and we will work with the transgender community in tackling problems with access to gender care services.

Labour will deliver strong action to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools and workplaces and keep up the campaign for equality for LGBT people. Under Labour’s plan, supported by Stonewall, schools will show zero-tolerance of homophobia in the classroom and playground, and require all teachers to be trained to tackle homophobic bullying. And we will do more to protect victims of hate crime by extending legal protection for aggravated offences to hostility based on trans identity and sexual orientation, sending a strong message that hate crime will not be tolerated.

A Labour government would introduce the first international envoy for LGBT rights to champion gay and transgender rights internationally. Labour will continue to back efforts to combat discrimination against LGBT people in Europe and the wider world, and will fight for LGBT people to have the same right for their spouses to live and work in other EU countries, free from legal or any other obstacle.

This election is a choice between a failing plan and a better plan for working families. The Tories’ plan is failing working families because they choose to prioritise helping a few at the top. Labour’s plan is based on a simple truth: that Britain only succeeds when working families succeed. That’s why Labour’s plan offers a better future: for living standards, for the next generation, and for the NHS. You can read more about Labour’s better plan at www.labour.org.uk/manifesto

With kind regards,

On behalf of the Labour Party

So, it wasn’t a reply from him, and it wasn’t a reply about my email. The gist seems to be “we’ve done lots of things and we have plans for other things”.

There is good news for transgender people. I’m really happy about that. But this email was generally disappointing. Nothing about asexuality. Nothing about the Equality Act. And the last paragraph tells me that this issue that’s important to me is an irrelevance: I should be voting based on the economic recovery.

That’s not what this election is about for me. I’ve given each party the opportunity to respond to this issue and none have.

Email sent to major political parties

Forgive me, I grew impatient. It has been more than two weeks since I sent letters to the political parties and received a reply (nay, an acknowledgement) from only the Conservative Party. I thought, perhaps, there were more appropriate places to send the request for more policy information than to the campaign headquarters. Indeed, for some of the parties, there appear to be such places.

I have just sent emails (or completed web forms) to the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Green Party. The Conservatives advised me to contact the Government Equalities Office, so I shall await their reply. The email contained an almost-carbon-copy of the original letter, save for a note at the start of the message noting that I have already sent a letter (dated 16th September).

Hopefully I should get some responses soon.

Addendum
I should add that I may have, in haste and carelessness, asked UKIP for the Green Party’s policy. I apologise openly for that oversight. However, I hope they can understand that this is my greatest concern and my alliances may be forged by an appropriate response and that I am not contacting them in isolation because of this.

Letter to major political parties

Since the letter I received from my local MP concentrated on the Equality Act 2010, I decided that I will concentrate on that, for now. So I’ve written another letter.

Well, letters. Seeing as there is going to be a General Election next year, I am writing to five political parties to establish their views and policies on asexuality protection. It is quite vague and does not make any demands at this stage. I want to get as rounded a picture of their stances as possible before seeking to push for promises.

So the following letter will be sent to the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom Independence Party. They will all receive the following letter.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to you with regard to the issue of the recognition of asexuality as a sexual orientation within the protective laws of the United Kingdom. Since I identify myself as being asexual, I am concerned that current plans that aim to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do not appear to extend naturally to asexual people.

I have recently been in touch with my current local Member of Parliament, The Rt. Hon. Mr Ronnie Campbell MP for Blyth Valley. His response to my letter, with confirmation from the House of Commons Library confirms that asexuals are not included in the definition for a sexual orientation in the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010), Section 12. Therefore, the laws that protect individuals on the basis of sexual orientation do not apply to asexual people.

It is my concern that, as more individuals recognise asexuality in themselves and others, discrimination and hate crime towards asexuals will become more frequent. As someone that has endured prejudice of this nature, I find it intolerable that EA 2010 does not offer the same protection as it does to other sexual orientations. An oft-heard refrain from such-prejudiced individuals is that asexuals are weird and not human-like; that EA 2010 does not include asexuals only supports their prejudice.

As a community, asexuals do not wish for this discrimination to become prevalent. Now is the opportune time to act. The United Kingdom could become the first country to pass protective legislation to protect asexuals and, as a leading, progressive nation, I believe that is something that we should strive for.

I am keen, therefore, to be informed of the <insert party name>’s policy towards the protection of asexuals and the commitments it intends to make following the forthcoming General Election. I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,
Stephen Broughton.