International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 4:47 pm, 16th May 2019

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend Nick Herbert for securing this debate and I pay tribute to his work on the APPG on global LGBT rights. I thank all Members who have contributed to the debate. It is important for the world to hear the British Parliament speak out against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and in support of this year’s theme, “Justice and protection for all”.

It is important not to forget that, behind the labels that trip off the tongue so easily, we are talking about real people and those who are often subject to discrimination, abuse and, sadly, in so many countries across the world, much worse. I am very proud, so many years on from the event, to be speaking here as the first openly gay Conservative MP and the shadow Minister who helped to steer through the Civil Partnership Bill for the Conservative party.

This country has a very proud record of promoting equality for those who define themselves as LGBT. Indeed, we are recognised as one of the top 10 most progressive countries in Europe for such rights. We have one of the strongest legislative frameworks in the world to prevent and tackle discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

We have heard powerful and moving speeches today but, as always, we recognise that there is more to do. In July last year, we launched the LGBT action plan, which set out 75 commitments and is supported by a £4.5 million fund to improve the lives of LGBT people in healthcare, education, the workplace and elsewhere. In the health sector, our £1 million LGBT health grant fund will back innovative proposals to tackle LGBT-related health inequality. Our new national LGBT health adviser, Dr Michael Brady, is working to improve LGBT people’s experiences throughout the healthcare sector.

We are also exploring options, including through existing legislation, to deliver on our commitment to end the abhorrent and prehistoric conversion therapy practices that some people disgustingly advocate. Such practices have no place in 21st-century Britain. Someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is not something to be cured; it is something we should all celebrate.

In schools and universities, we are supporting LGBT work by students and teachers to improve tolerance and diversity in leadership, and we have made a further £1 million available to expand and extend an existing project to fight homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools—a phenomenon we should all condemn and that is totally unacceptable. In the workplace, we have launched a new £600,000 scheme to help to develop skills and capacity in the LGBT sector and we are working with the police to improve the response to LGBT hate crime incidents.