Celebrating LGBT History Month

This month we celebrate iconic LGBT+ pioneers and strengthen our efforts to give meaningful attention to LGBT history. 

In the UK, LGBT History Month falls in February to coincide the repealing of Section 28 in England and Wales introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey. And this year, on February 10th, Northern Ireland will begin to marry same-sex couples- the final step of marriage equality which our party started in 2013.

But for all the progress that has been made, there is still undoubtedly more to be done. Increases in hate crimes, worrying levels of transphobia in mainstream media and disparities in social and health care provisions are proof that the battle for equality is far from over.

As a national and local Party, we have been unequivocal in our support for equality and we will continue to fight until everyone is able to live without fear of hate or discrimination. It is regrettable that Bromley will not have a local Pride this year- despite neighbouring Croydon having one (on 18th July). However, London Pride is open for all, with the parade on 27th June. 

Thank you to everyone involved in organising this year's celebrations and we wish all LGBT+ people within Bromley, and beyond, an enjoyable month ahead.

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Our European story is not over!

For the last four years the Liberal Democrats have proudly fought to stop Brexit.

We are immensely proud of everything we did. We stood up for our values. We campaigned so hard. But we also accept that at 11pm tonight, we will no longer be members of the European Union.

Our European story is not over. Tomorrow our fight continues, to make sure Britain has the closest possible relationship with our allies in Europe.


Let's make 2020 the year we scrap the Vagrancy Act

A man sleeping rough. Image: Steven Lilley.

 

Our recent survey in Bromley Town Centre found one of the key issues people are worried about is homelessness in our borough. And with a homeless population of over 4400, people are rightly worried. The Tory-led council and government don't want to do anything about it: homeless people are helped largely though charity, despite the causes of homelessness often being induced by poor housing, health and welfare policy. 

And yet our government reserves the right to arrest these people.

71% of people think arresting someone for sleeping rough is a waste of police time. Over half have said it shouldn’t be a crime at all.

But still, the government's kicked the decision of repealing the Vagrancy Act it into the long grass and is waiting for their own review.

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, introduced a Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill into the last Parliament. In the chaos of Brexit, it disappeared. But this could be quickly re-introduced.

Out of sight, out of mind isn't good enough. It's a mark of national shame that even one person is homeless in 2020 - even more so that we're prosecuting them for it. The problem isn't going to go away - so let's make the first step towards solving it together. Let's scrap the Vagrancy Act.


Brexit: Entering the Middlegame

The EU Withdrawal Bill has passed. But what were the amendments, and what does this all mean for the future? 

 

It's not every day you hear the Lib Dems singing the praises of the House of Lords. Whilst quickly overridden, this week the Lords orchestrated the first defeat of Johnson's new government. Or, more precisely, 5 defeats in the form of amendments added to the EU Withdrawal Agreement bill (WAB):

 

To provide EU nationals with a recognised hard copy of their settled status

 

This is a simple step which would safeguard EU citizens' rights. A physical copy may be needed, not just by the government but by other organisations a citizen would need to interact with such as employers, financial services and landlords. These don't appear to have access to the central database being created. How a settled EU national can easily prove their status to a private organisation remains unclear.

 

Protecting the rights of child refugees to move to the UK, where they have relatives legally resident

 

This amendment, put in place by a peer who fled to the UK as a child to escape the Nazis, compels the government to negotiate the placement of unaccompanied child refugees with the EU. Without this amendment, we simply have empty promises from a government which has persistently stuck its head in the sand over asylum seekers. This clause was in Teresa May's deal, and has been deliberately taken out during Johnson's renegotiations. One would have to say this speaks for itself.

 

Rejecting the power for ministers to direct how to proceed with EU court rulings,

and

Ensuring the Supreme Court can have a say in deciding if EU court rulings should be struck down

 

These amendments expose a sinister change to the constitution hidden in the WAB. With the original text intact the executive (ministers) can bypass previous decisions made by the judiciary (court), and the Supreme Court is left out of decisions on EU case law. It is a central tenet of our government that courts and parliament can scrutinise the actions of ministers. Reversing this direction is a worrying centralisation of powers.

 

It's no shock that the Johnson administration has unfinished business with the Supreme Court, and cutting them off from all things Brexit is both petty and a worrying sign of things to come. Hidden within the 2019 Tory manifesto is a vague and menacing sentence:

 

After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people”

 

Those hoping this is a throwaway part of their manifesto would do well to note these changes are already happening, one month in, as part of the WAB.

 

A final amendment ensuring devolved matters be decided upon by devolved parliaments

 

This vote had the backdrop of symbolic rejections of the WAB by the Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish Parliament. The Conservative and Unionist Party, it seems, has lost the support of the Union.

 

Brexit has now been enshrined in law. But the fight isn't over: the benefits of a close relationship with the EU are still as true as in 2016. We haven't entered the endgame of our relationship with the EU- this has just begun. And the Liberal Democrats are the largest national party committed to ensuring our close relationship with the EU remains.


Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Liberal Democrat peers today helped to inflict another defeat on the Conservative Government in the House of Lords, this time on a vote to protect child refugees.
 
By 300 to 220, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill to maintain the rights of unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe to be reunited with their family members in the UK.
 
This marks the fourth government defeat on the Bill, after the Lords passed three amendments yesterday: one moved by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and two to prevent Ministers from instructing lower courts to ignore legal precedent.
 
The Bill is set to return to the House of Commons tomorrow, when the Conservative Government is expected to try to overturn these amendments – against opposition from Liberal Democrat MPs.
 
Bromley Lib Dems are proud of what our Peers achieved today. The Liberal Democrats will not stand by while the Conservative Government uses Brexit to undermine the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. We hope that MPs will resist government pressure to overturn today’s vote in the House of Commons.

 


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