law

A response from the Green Party

It’s been a while since I posted an asexuality update. I’ve been largely involved with maaple (I’m sure I’ll make another post about that at some point…). But I’ve had a belated but nonetheless encouraging letter from the Green Party. I asked them about their policy on asexuality equality and, specifically, about the Equality Act 2010. Here is their response.

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for writing to the Green Party. Your letter has been directed to me as it deals with policy. Please also accept my apologies for the delay in not being able to respond before the election — we are a small team in a busy office, and receive a large volume of enquiries.

The Green Party recognises that asexuality and aromanticism are part of the diverse range of human experience and should be recognised. The Green party rejects any stigmatising of these characteristics as bad for individuals, or bad for society.

We understand that these characteristics are thoroughly misunderstood by society. Therefore we would aim to include details of them in general education so that asexual and aromantic people can flourish in society. The Green Party is committed to fully inclusive sex and relationships education for all children.

These pledges are made in our 2015 LGBTIQ manifesto which you can read in full at https://www.greenparty.org.uk/resources/LGBTIQ_Manifesto_v4%20FINAL.pdf.

Currently our policy on asexual rights is quite broad, and we do not have a specific policy on the inclusion of asexuals in the Equality Act. However, I believe that our general policy on sexual orientation (which includes discrimination and legal equality) may be up for review later this year, with a view to including asexuals. Green Party policy is made democratically by our members who vote on proposals at conferences twice a year, and I believe a motion is being prepared for the next conference in September.

The Green Party has a proud history of standing up for LGBTIQ rights, and I doubt there would be opposition to the inclusion of asexuals in anti-discrimination measures and laws. Should you be interested in joining the party, I would encourage you to take part in our policy making process.

For more information on our other policies, please see our manifesto which can be found here: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/we-stand-for/2015-manifesto.html.

Once again, thank you for your letter and please do not hesitate to contact us in the future.

Yours sincerely,
Matt Burton (Policy Volunteer)

This sounds very promising indeed!

A reply from my local MP

In my previous A fight for change post, I posted a letter I sent to my local Member of Parliament. I received his reply today, so I’d like to thank Mr Campbell for his prompt response to my query. His response is below.

Dear Mr Broughton,

Re: Recognition of asexuality

Further to your enquiry to the office regarding the above, this is to confirm that I contacted the House of Commons Library and reiterated your concerns to the employment and equality law specialist.

Please find enclosed your response regarding asexuality and the Equality Act 2010.

I trust the above clarifies the situation, however if you require further assistance, then please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Yours sincerely,
Ronnie Campbell MP

The enclosed document was thorough (three pages, no less) and reflected upon the laws and court action that has been provoked by legislation with regard to asexuality. I thank the gentleman that composed this document. Since it is thorough, I will post highlights of the document, including the warning:

This information is provided to Members of Parliament in support of their parliamentary duties and is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. It should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. A suitably qualified professional should be consulted if specific advice or information is required.

You have been warned!

Here is a summary (and a few quotes) of this document.

  • “In short, the constituent [me] is broadly correct: the definition of sexual orientation under the Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010) does not expressly encompass asexuality.”He quotes Katherine Monaghan QC, a leading commentator on equality law:

    the EA 2010 does not address discrimination against a person because they are asexual. The EA 2010 assumes that such a person has no sexuality at all (or none justifying protection). This is on the presumed basis that we all have a sexual drive towards one sex or another, or both.

    (Monaghan on Equality Law, 2013, p.238)

  • “This failure to address discrimination against asexuals may be more a product of oversight than intention. The EA 2010’s definition of sexual orientation was based on that used in regulation 2(1) of The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1661), which implemented EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC.”Looking at SI 2003/1661, the definition is, indeed, identical. He suggested that the Government at the time proposed this definition, which was not challenged in Parliament. Similarly, when EA 2010 was adopted, there were few challenges in Parliament, presumably since the Act itself is considered broadly a good thing — and, of course, it is.
  • “Despite the above, it is still possible that the Act could eventually prohibit such discrimination. The courts are required to interpret the Act in accordance with EU law, including case law, which may in time come to encompass asexuality within the definition of sexual orientation. It appears that, at present, the EU has not addressed this issue due to a lack of evidence that asexuals are suffering discrimination.”
  • He noted the response to a question sent by a member of a Spanish Member of Parliament to the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship at the European Commission, Viviane Reding. The summarising question was, “Does the Commission not believe it should give attention to asexual people in programmes to ensure equality regardless of sexual orientation?”The response was reassuring in that the European Commission appears sympathetic; and: “The Commission is not aware of reported cases of discrimination by asexual persons in employment in the framework of this directive and does not dispose of any solid evidence of discrimination suffered by this group” (European Parliament, Official Journal C 55E, 26/02/2014).
  • “Of course, this does not address the constituent’s concern that the EA 2010 does not expressly prohibit discrimination against asexuals, which could only be addressed by amending section 12.”

So, the gist of this document is that there have been no cases of discrimination against asexuals; EA 2010 doesn’t expressly forbid such discrimination; but it may still offer protection to those that need it.

I would appreciate suggestions for what I should be doing next. This letter has both reassured me and confirmed my worries. Ideally, Section 12 of EA 2010 should be changed: not only to protect asexuals, but also for the knowledge that my country recognises who we are. Once this happens, I hope there are fewer children growing up thinking that there must be something wrong with them.