Michael Johnson, Socialist Party LGBT+ group
Two thirds of LGBT+ people are afraid of holding their partner’s hand in public, or being open about their sexuality for fear of a negative reaction.
More than a quarter of young LGBT+ people in education have experienced verbal harassment, insults or forced ‘outings’. A quarter of LGBT+ people in work have had negative reactions to their sexuality in the last 12 months.
Nearly half of LGBT+ people have faced homophobic reactions from strangers in the last year. Nearly all LGBT+ people experiencing this harassment do not report it for reasons like “it happens all the time” or the feeling that nothing would change.
The Tories have launched their LGBT Action Plan to tackle these issues. Unsurprisingly it fails to do anything of the sort.
The plan acknowledges a huge number of the issues facing LGBT+ people. From lack of education in schools about sexuality, to shrinking services for LGBT+ people. From the disproportionate representation of LGBT+ youth in the homeless population, to lack of access to mental health services. More than half of LGBT+ people trying to access mental health services report difficulties due to long waiting times.
Of course nowhere in this plan is there any recognition of the Tories’ role in creating this environment. Policies like Section 28, and in the modern day, austerity and privatisation, have had a brutal impact on the NHS and LGBT+ services.
The plan frequently acknowledges services like sexual health (where a number of services across England have had funding cut in half), gender identity, domestic violence and victim support are massively oversubscribed.
But the solution of ending austerity and properly funding these services is ignored. A £4.5m ‘LGBT Implementation Fund’ will barely meet existing need, let alone improve access to services.
Indeed, very few of the problems raised in this action plan are met with real solutions. To the question of tackling LGBT+ youth homelessness, their answer is data collection. Not building affordable, safe council housing.
Meeting LGBT+ people’s physical and mental health and social care needs? Data collection and policy writing. Not ensuring a fully-funded NHS and social care system.
Addressing LGBT+ people’s safety around the world? Giving them travel advice. Do the Tories realise that deporting LGBT+ asylum seekers doesn’t count as giving them travel advice?
There’s no doubt that this plan is a cynical ploy by the Tories to appear ‘progressive’ without providing any genuine improvements in LGBT+ rights or services.
In truth, the only way the needs of LGBT+ people highlighted in this plan can be met is the same way all the steps forward for the community have been made so far. Fighting and campaigning. LGBT+ people should unite with trade unions and other campaigning groups to build a united working class movement against Tory austerity and for socialist change, the only way to win real liberation for all.