LGBT Equality

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

In July, we launched the Gender Recognition Act 2004 consultation and a 75-point LGBT action plan in response to the findings of the national LGBT survey. The action plan includes a £4.5 million fund to support delivery of these commitments—ranging from bringing forward proposals to end conversion therapy to appointing a national LGBT health adviser. This work marks a culture change to ensure that LGBT people feel respected at every level of our society.

Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

The “Safe to talk to me” initiative pioneered by Dr Mike Farquhar gives badges, such as the one I am wearing, to NHS staff to encourage members of the LGBT community to understand that they can raise such issues in an open and safe environment. Will my hon. Friend welcome that initiative?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

Very much so. I thank my hon. Friend for the work that she does in the national health service looking after ill children. I am admiring her badge from afar. It looks very colourful. I hope that it will draw exactly the sort of reaction intended—namely, encouraging people who perhaps need extra reassurance that they are welcome and they are safe in the NHS to talk about their needs.

Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

Does the Minister agree that we need to do more to help our LGBT friends around the world, particularly those who are seeking asylum? Will she therefore condemn the Home Office’s approach at the moment? It is deporting one of my constituents back to Venezuela after he has applied for asylum and married someone here and lived in Britain for three years. The Home Office still says that Venezuela is a safe place for an LGBT person to live. It even recommends that his husband moves back with him.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

Of course I am concerned to hear about LGBT people in Venezuela being treated as despicably as the hon. Gentleman has described. If I may, I will take the opportunity to invite him to write to the relevant Minister. I would certainly hope that we can look into the matter in more detail.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

Very recently, the Government reduced the waiting time for gay people who want to give blood from 12 months of celibacy to three months, which was welcomed by the LGBT community. Will my hon. Friend update the House on how that progress is going?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

I thank my hon. Friend for his work. I know that he campaigned strongly on this issue, and he adds colour to the House, as I am sure he added colour to that campaign. I regret that I do not have the precise figures to hand, but if I may, I will take the opportunity to write to him, and I would, of course, be happy to discuss the matter with him after this session.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

As you know, Mr Speaker, I entered a civil partnership eight years ago, yet the Government are still consulting on what to do about civil partnerships—there is a threat that you are going to abolish us! [Interruption.] Well not you, Mr Speaker, but the Government are threatening that they might abolish civil partnerships. There is joy, there is passion, and not so much celibacy in civil partnerships, so would it not make far more sense to extend them to straight people as well?

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Finance Committee (Commons)

I am pleased you can remember it— [Laughter.]

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

There are so many ways I could go with this. I congratulate Chris Bryant on his civil partnership. He will know that my hon. Friend Tim Loughton is promoting his Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, and I will have the pleasure of responding to that as the Minister responsible. We are conducting a consultation and carefully considering the Supreme Court judgment because, all joking aside, we know that these issues matter to people and we want to ensure that our country continues to be a place of equality.