LGBT Rights: Brunei

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:57 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water) 4:57 pm, 10th April 2019

I congratulate my hon. Friend Thangam Debbonaire on a passionate speech. It is not right that our LGBT friends across the world cannot enjoy the same freedoms as LGBT people in my constituency.

We need to send a strong message from this debate that love is love. We must use our power as a country to impress that on our friends. It is harder when our friends fail, and when we have to have difficult conversations with people with whom we share a common bond, but on this we must, because our values do not stop at our borders. I say that as a gay man who is proud to be out. We have an extra responsibility to make sure that people know that whether someone is L, G, B, T or straight, it does not matter—they deserve human rights wherever they are.

I have asked the Ministry of Defence in a written question about what advice has been given to UK forces stationed at British Forces Brunei, to make sure that there are no consequences for LGBT serving UK personnel in Brunei. I would be grateful if the Minister could reflect on that in his remarks.

We must be aware that the roll-back of LGBT rights can happen. There is sometimes a belief in the LGBT community that LGBT rights only go one way—that we will only ever get more equal and that our fight for equality is over. That is wrong. It is a false wrapper that we put round ourselves to pretend that we do not have to fight anymore.

It gave me great strength to see the first-time activists protesting outside the Dorchester and other hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei, because they recognise that their human rights in the UK are affected if human rights for LGBT people around the world are affected. It does matter. Every time there is hate internationally, hate is brought on LGBT communities in our country. It does not take much to find people on social media saying,

“Perhaps Brunei has the right idea”,

or,

“The sultan of Brunei has the right idea of what to do with you Brighton bitches”,

or,

“Brunei has the right idea in dealing with such FILTH.”

The hate engendered in the laws that my hon. Friend spoke so passionately about empowers people who want to divide others and peddle hate in our country. That is why our determination to fight such cruel punishment for simply being LGBT with our friends and allies abroad must be matched by our commitment to do so at home as well. We must be clear that there is no place for this type of hate, either in the UK or around the world. As we decide what type of country we want to be after Brexit, we must ensure that human rights—LGBT rights—are at the heart of our diplomacy.