In this report we use LGBTI to mean the whole LGBTQI+ community, in accordance with Gay Star News style. In the case of European rights and protections, it is often more accurate to refer to LGBT or to just LGB, so we have used those initialisms where appropriate.
At times when either as individuals or as a nation we face great and unprecedented change, we need more certainty not less. Reassurance is absolutely necessary if we are to embark upon a journey whose destination we do not know, and on a journey that needs to unite this divided country rather than imperil it.
Passionate words maybe, and I make no excuses for them. It is how I have argued in the defence of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU during our debates in the House of Lords on our withdrawal from the European Union.
We have been told time and time again by the government, and some legal experts that we do not need the Charter, that it is unnecessary because the rights already exist in other domestic legislation and international conventions.
That is plainly untrue. But if that was the case, then why is it that this is the one piece of EU law this government refuses to carry forward after we leave the European Union? This government, which has consistently questioned judgements on human rights and questioned whether we need to be committed to international human rights obligations.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights is a stunning reaffirmation that rights will be protected against governments who would not otherwise give them, or wish to take them away. It is a Charter that has helped to progress human rights in other parts of the world too. It remains a powerful tool.
Again, as I said in the House of Lords, when it comes to human rights and civil liberties I want more guarantees, even repeats of those guarantees, not less.
The report you are about to read is a powerful reminder that if we do nothing, then we could potentially lose all. They have woven together the story of the evolution of the protection of rights, including LGBT rights, that might never have happened had it not been for persistence, vision and courage. A group of nations acting together to ensure that the past would never be repeated and that voiceless minorities, however unpopular, would be protected.
30 years ago I never believed that any government, not even a Conservative government in the United Kingdom would’ve brought forward a piece of legislation to further undermine and indeed stigmatise a community battling against AIDS and HIV. It happened. Sec- tion 28 happened. It was politically expedient and our Parliament passed it.
This should be our reminder that, in the landscape of human rights, we always need to guard against the un- expected. The Charter is one of our guardians, and this story is it’s evolution.