Is Jeremy Corbyn the right LGBT ally in Britain?
After the recent British elections, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is the man in the spotlight after his rival, Prime Minister Theresa May, led the Conservative Party to poll victory– but lost their parliamentary majority.
In order for the Conservative Party (or Tories) to retain power in parliament, May wants an alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which has a record of being anti-LGBT and is against abortion.
This is because for May and the Tories to push for the British exit from the European Union (or Brexit), they need all the parliamentary support they can get.
Corbyn– who might be the next Prime Minister if May fails to gather a majority– has spoken out against the Tories’ alliance with the DUP.
Speaking to Pink News, Corbyn said: “LGBT rights are human rights. They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.”
So who is Jeremy Corbyn and what’s his record on LGBT rights? Is he the ally that our LGBT community across the pond needs?
Jeremy Corbyn: LGBT ally?
Corbyn has been the head of the British Labour Party in opposition to the Tories since 2015, as well as a member of the British Parliament of Islington North since 1983.
Identifying as a democratic socialist, Corbyn has supported British civil partnerships and same-sex marriage, as well as the Equality Act 2010.
In a Q&A with Pink News readers, Corbyn expounded on his LGBT positions: “I have consistently campaigned and voted for equal rights for LGBT people, since the early 1980s when I was first elected.”
“Labour has a proud record of championing the fight for LGBT equality. Every progressive piece of equality legislation has been delivered by Labour. But whilst we’ve come a long way, there is still more to be done,” he added.
Corbyn noted that the Labour would maintain the United Kingdom remain a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights (a key part of LGBT legislation) despite May’s threat to pull out as part of Brexit.
The Labour Party head also pointed out that they had pushed for compulsory Sex and Relationship Education in school for years, “which the Conservatives opposed until recently.”
“It is vital that we build on recent advances to develop an inclusive, age-appropriate education programme on sex, relationship and consent, compulsory for all children within all state-funded schools,” he said.
Jeremy Corbyn’s rival: Theresa May
While May had also espoused pro-LGBT positions during her own Q&A with Pink News, her recent alliance with the ultra-conservative DUP has triggered a lot of criticism against her.
It’s not only Corbyn who spoke against May’s alliance. Ruth Davidson, who heads the Scottish Conservative Party counterpart, had warned that her stand on LGBT rights is more important than her loyalty to the party.
This is important to note as Davidson is a lesbian who is set to marry her partner Jen Wilson.
LGBT rights are “an issue very close to my heart and one that I wanted categoric assurances from the Prime Minister on,” Davidson told the BBC.
The DUP had previously backed a “conscience clause” that would protect people to discriminate against the LGBT. They had also hindered the progress on allowing equal marriage in Northern Ireland.