Global LGBT Rights

Part of Modern Slavery Act 2015 – in the House of Commons at 2:53 pm on 26th October 2017.

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Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Conservative, Arundel and South Downs 2:53 pm, 26th October 2017

I thank the hon. Lady. I was coming to that point, but she has made it very effectively for me.

I will draw my remarks to a conclusion because others wish to get in. My central point is that we see terrible abuses of LGBT people globally, but change can be effected, and we should not be despondent about that. In Uganda, partly because of the influence of the World Bank, which was considering granting an important loan to the country, the President was prevailed on not to implement the law the Parliament had passed, which would have oppressed gay people. In Belize, a legal challenge has resulted in protection for LGBT people. In Mozambique, legislation has effected the same thing. We can effect change.

The United Kingdom has a really important role. We are still the fifth largest economy in the world. We have a global reach. We have important historic ties across the world, not least through the Commonwealth. We have one of the largest aid budgets in the world and the massive opportunity to exercise soft power and influence. In Cairo, the crackdown on gay people began when they flew the rainbow flag, and the flying of the rainbow flag over our own Parliament and our own Government buildings sends an important signal about an attachment to freedom and a belief in liberty and equality. We should not underestimate the fact that taking such a stance is not trite and not trivial. It matters. It matters in the eyes of the communities and activists who are looking for our support in other countries. People will be watching this debate, and they want to know that this House supports these communities on a cross-party basis and that the British Government supports them. We are talking about thousands of activists and millions of people. Let freedom ring for them!