Global LGBT Rights

Part of Modern Slavery Act 2015 – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 26th October 2017.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 3:58 pm, 26th October 2017

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention and I wish him luck in his efforts.

Ideologies that suppress, torture and kill simply because of one human’s feelings towards another are unacceptable. We in the UK must show international leadership, as it is very important in this issue. The United States was once a beacon for all kinds of individual rights and I would like to share with Members my disappointment, which I am sure they share, at the decisions of the latest American President to ban further recruitment of trans soldiers and to deny the funding of certain medical treatments for those soldiers. If someone is brave enough to fight for their country, their country should be brave enough to fight for them.

In this country, we have a number of measures that are helping internationally. I welcome the Magna Carta fund of £1.5 million, which is being pushed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I also welcome the Government’s recent provision of £3 million to help tackle homophobic bullying in schools in England and Wales. The Scottish Government’s “respect me” campaign has been very successful and the anti-bullying service it promotes is also welcomed, but I seek more joined-up campaigns across the UK to promote LGBT rights.

This country is a leader, but we have to maintain that position of leadership. In my constituency, we are able to collect statistics on sexual orientation-aggravated crime in two centres, Alloa and Perth, and in 2015-16 there were 21 cases of such crimes—that is 21 too many. A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege, along with other Scottish Members, to hear from a representative from the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, who talked about a number of individuals’ journeys and their challenges in dealing with their sexuality. One story that has stuck with me ever since was that of a young man who was so tortured by his sexuality and how he could fit in with his local community that he had gone as far as to pick a tree outside his house from which to hang himself, so that he could be easily collected by his family. I am sure other Members will join me in acknowledging the many tales of people tearing themselves apart because of the way they feel. They ask themselves one question: can I love who I do and still be good, still be a success, still be able to contribute to my community? In this House, the answer we must give is an unequivocal yes. I support the TIE campaign, which has been mentioned by Opposition Members and which promotes inclusive education to make sure LGBT issues are included in the curriculum. That is not to promote one path or another; it seeks just to give young people the confidence to walk the path that is their own.

We must uphold LGBT rights with the same ferocity as we uphold the rights of any other of our citizens. We must tackle discrimination, at home and abroad, and give everyone the confidence to live their life and contribute to our society. Unlike so many issues debated in this House, equality in law is something we can all agree with, and I hope that every Member in this House can commit to it.