The Conservatives pledge to ‘push forward with our plan for tackling hate crime committed on the basis of religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.’ This is the sole mention of gender identity/LGBT+ issues in the Conservative manifesto.
The Labour manifesto includes pledges to ‘reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act 2010 to ensure they protect Trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and remove other outdated terminology such as ‘transsexual’.’ Although some trans people do choose to identify as transsexual, this term does not represent many people in the trans community, nor does it sufficiently represent those who identify as non-binary. Labour also pledges to tackle hate crime by making LGBT+ hate crimes ‘aggravated offences’, similar to those committed on the grounds of race or faith.
Furthermore, Labour pledges to offer support and training for teachers to provide support for LGBT+ students, as well as training for NHS staff to be able to offer the same support. While the last point is certainly a pressing issue facing many trans and non-binary people, we would have liked to have seen a pledge to provide more financial support and resources to an overstretched NHS gender identity service. As of January 2016, trans and non-binary people in the UK face waiting lists of up to 81 weeks to access basic treatment in the NHS system.
The SNP pledges to introduce the role of a special envoy to ‘promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the world’, making special mention of the ‘persecution faced by LGBTI people in Chechnya’ as well as in other nations across the world. Additionally, the SNP also pledges to ‘reform to the detention and asylum system for LGBTI individuals escaping countries where homosexuality is still criminalised, removing unfair and invasive demands for ‘proof’ of sexuality or gender identity.’
Regarding Westminster, the SNP promises to offer support so that ‘people of all classes, races and gender identities’ are able to stand for election to the House of Commons.
The SNP also pledges to ensure that LGBT+ people are ‘fully protected from discrimination and harassment.’
The Liberal Democrat manifesto includes pledges to tackle bullying in school on the basis of ‘gender, sexuality, gender identity or gender expression’, as well as including LGBT+ relationships in age-appropriate Sex and Relationship Education curricula. Furthermore, the Lib Dems pledge to challenge ‘gender stereotyping and early sexualisation’ in schools, alongside aiming to tackle gender divides within certain academic subjects.
The Lib Dems also pledge to extend the Equality Act 2010 to ‘explicitly cover gender identity and expression’, as well as removing obstacles faced by trans people in changing their legal gender under the Gender Recognition Act 2004. There is also a pledge to introduce an X marker on passports for those who identify as neither male nor female.
The Lib Dems pledge to ensure that trans prisoners are ‘placed in prisons that reflect their gender identity, rather than their birth gender’. Additionally, the Lib Dems would offer asylum to those fleeing countries where their sexual orientation or gender identity puts them at risk of ‘imprisonment, torture or execution’, and would cease all deportation to such countries of those at risk. Elsewhere, the Lib Dems wish to develop a strategy for the ‘decriminalisation of homosexuality’ and ‘[to advance] the cause of LGBT+ rights’ around the world.
The Lib Dem manifesto also includes a pledge to ‘Ensure that LGBT+ inclusive mental health services receive funding and support. The Lib Dems would seek to require companies with more than 250 employees to publish data on LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps, and would also introduce legislation to allow for all-LGBT+ parliamentary shortlists.
There is no mention of LGBT+ or gender identity in the DUP manifesto.
There is no mention of LGBT+ or gender identity in the Sinn Féin manifesto.
The Plaid Cymru manifesto includes a pledge to offer legal protection and equal treatment regardless of ‘gender or sexual orientation’. Considering that there is no gender identity service in Wales at the time of writing, we consider this to be a missed opportunity for Plaid Cymru to represent trans and non-binary constituents.
The SDLP manifesto chooses to focus on their marriage equality record in Northern Ireland, as well as pledging to continue LGBT+ support for those in the UK as well as overseas. There is no mention of gender identity.
Ulster Unionist Party
There is no mention of LGBT+ or gender identity in the Ulster Unionist Party manifesto.
The Greens’ main manifesto pledges ‘real equality for LGBTIQA+ people’, as well as a strategy to tackle gender-based violence in the UK.
However, the Greens also have an individual LGBTIQA+ manifesto (an easy-read format is also available), asserting that ‘trans men are men, trans women are women and non-binary genders exist and are valid.’ This manifesto features by far the most in-depth exploration of trans and non-binary issues. For trans and non-binary people in the UK, these include but are not limited to: ensuring local councils have enough money to fund LGBTIQA+ services, protecting benefits for LGBTIQA+ people, ensuring health services for LGBTIQA+ are funded appropriately, making it easier for trans people to access medical services, scrapping the spousal veto, strengthening hate crime legislation, updating the Gender Recognition Act to allow for self-declaration of gender identity, and introducing an X gender marker on passports for those who identify as neither male nor female. The Greens also recognise that NHS cuts make accessing services more difficult for trans and non-binary people. They pledge to reverse the cuts but unfortunately do not clarify whether or not they would increase funding and support for gender identity services. The Greens also pledge to end discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people in UK sport, as well as ensuring that sports clubs in the UK treat LGBTIQA+ children with respect and support for their wellbeing.
The Greens’ foreign policy would include lobbying overseas to end LGBTIQA+ persecution, ceasing deportation of LGBTIQA+ refugees until reform has taken place, and placing sanctions on regimes that are violent towards LGBTIQA+ people.
The Greens are the only party to make individual pledges for intersex people, offering inclusion in Equality Act legislation, outlawing forced gender assignment for intersex children, and greater NHS support and training for intersex patients.
In addition to being the only party to mention intersex people in their manifesto, the Greens are also the only party to mention asexual and aromantic people, with pledges including protection from harassment and/or discrimination, and introducing asexual and aromantic identity as part of school curricula.
Despite some omissions, the Greens’ LGBTIQA+ manifesto is extremely encouraging, and we would like to see more of this clarity from other parties in future.
The UKIP manifesto pledges to stand up for ‘true equality’, focusing on the idea that respecting cultural differences allows misogyny and homophobia to thrive in some communities. UKIP also mentions that they ‘do not believe in treating women or gay people as second-class citizens’. There is no mention of gender identity in the UKIP manifesto, but the use of LGBT identities to attack cultural diversity is troubling.
The Alliance Party
The Alliance Party pledges to ‘promote LGBTI+ rights across the world’, as well as using the UKs’ role in the Commonwealth to promote LGBTI+ rights worldwide. They also pledge to ‘eradicate gendered violence’.
Of these manifestos, the Greens clearly offer the strongest support for trans and non-binary people, and their LGBTIQA+ manifesto should be a blueprint for other parties in approaching these issues. Some of the parties that failed to mention LGBT+ and gender identity in their manifestos have pledged support in previous publications but it is nonetheless disappointing to see a number of parties neglect to mention such issues in their general election manifestoes, which offer the electorate the chance to scrutinise their policies in fine detail. Parties should be as upfront and honest about these policies as possible, because only with greater clarity can we hope to achieve greater accountability.
by Elizabeth Kerrigan (@passingtrain)
Image under CC0 licence