Huge strides have been made towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality, thanks in big part to the actions of Labour party politicians. Section 28 has been abolished, equal marriage rights have been secured, and society is becoming more tolerant and accepting of difference by the day. But beneath these headline figures, it is clear that there is still more to do. There are only three lesbian or bisexual Labour women MPs, no trans MPs and no LGBT Labour MPs from a black, asian or minority ethnic background. Recent weeks have seen homophobic insults directed at LGBT activists online. And we know too little about the state of LGBT representation in the Labour party because no one collects and publishes the data.
Using a range of evidence from LGBT members across the Labour party, this paper reveals that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia is still a problem within Labour’s ranks. This ranges from direct discrimination in the selection process to unconscious bias from often well-meaning members, and it all seems to revolve around one central theme: that LGBT people do not meet outdated standards of what makes ‘the ideal candidate’. They are not, in the words of one roundtable participant, the ‘white man with 2.4 children living in a big house with a wife making jam’.
To ensure fair representation for LGBT people at every level, this discussion paper argues the Labour party should do three things:
- Understand the problem it is facing by collecting data and ensuring diversity
- Take tough action to remove the barriers in the selection process by tackling discrimination, ensuring transparency and improving training
- Encourage more LGBT people to join and ensure they are welcomed by reforming local parties and giving LGBT people a greater voice
You can download full data tables to accompany this report here.