We take our human rights for granted in the UK - Brexit could quickly undo them

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 September 2019

Protesters in Westminster fighting against Boris Johnson's plan to prorogue parliament to force through Brexit. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

Protesters in Westminster fighting against Boris Johnson's plan to prorogue parliament to force through Brexit. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

As the government goes to any length to achieve their goal of Brexit - even trashing the economy - ELIZABETH ROJAS fears the consequences on human rights.

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For many years, we believed that the UK was moving closer and closer to equality, acceptance and respect. We believed that the UK was a progressive, modern parliamentary democracy that was leaving behind the dark times when identifying as an LGBT+ person was viewed as unacceptable, shameful or even criminal.

However, the events of the last three years have been a rude awakening to many minority groups who do not form the status quo. It is our duty to stand up for our rights in society and we should not rest, nor be complacent if we are not one of the minority groups who are being targeted, marginalised, discriminated against or made to feel unworthy.

The current government has put its heart in taking us out of the European Union. Over the last week, they've shown that they're willing to go to disgraceful lengths to achieve this goal. The government says that it is the will of the people and there is a legal mandate to leave the EU without any deal. Yet they have no real plan - in fact no notion of how leaving the EU will devastate so many other aspects of UK life. If you want to preview the direction this self-interested government is willing to take a look across the pond at the Trump administration and their record on supporting the LGBT+ community.

No matter your identity or your political views, the real painful truth is that No-Deal Brexit is bad news for everyone - but some groups will be harmed more than others. No-Deal Brexit is bad news economically. Culturally, it threatens many human rights that we all enjoy. If Britain can allow this political sabotage, how long will it be before marginalised communities that may not fit into the Brexit Britain dream that some have are also singled out? We've already seen an increase in hate crime against the LGBT+ community - especially trans people - and it was recently reported that people in Birmingham no longer feel safe being LGBT+ since the Brexit vote.

In the past two decades, the UK has made amazing progress for the LGBT+ community - from same sex couples being recognised for emigration procedures in 1997, the equalised age of content in 2000 and the right to adopt in 2002 to protection against discrimination at work or the legalisation of same sex marriage.

We must remember how slowly the UK has started move in the right direction and we must cherish and safeguard the hard won rights of the LGBT+ community - even if we are not from those communities ourselves. The European Court of Human rights has played an important part in the struggle against discrimination and is a powerful ally for the LGBT+ community. We've seen this with the case of Conan vs Rumania; which was the first time that an EU directive on freedom of movement for citizens and their family applied to married spouses of the same gender.

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Whilst we remain in the EU, any UK government has to answer to a much more powerful body which constitutionally protects minority groups from unfair or dehumanising treatment. Some people do not like this concept and they say that our sovereignty matters more to us, but you must ask who are the 'us' they are referring to. It's not just about whether you are included, but are your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues included, or excluded?

So let us talk about our British sovereignty. But let us not forget that in over 30 countries, homosexuality was criminalised under the rule of the British Empire. Recently we have seen how rights can be lost so very quickly. In the USA Trump banned transgender people from working in military forces and in many countries the right to marriage and adoption for the LGBT+ are for some only a distant dream.

If we stand by and allow a No Deal, disaster Brexit and are apathetic as our unelected prime minister shuts down parliament and resists a people's vote on the direction of our relationship with the EU, it will not be long before the UK is little more than Donald Trump's poodle. And the rights of the LGBT+ community may follow in the same direction as America's.

Now, it is more crucial than ever before to fight for a People's Vote. That's why, as an ally, I support LGBT+ for a People's Vote.

- Elizabeth Rojas is a supporter and ally of LGBT+ for a People's Vote.

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